After five months of use in Hungary, there is still controversy surrounding the Chinese Sinopharm vaccine. While the government continues to promote its efficacy, many people are taking matters into their own hands, finding that two inoculations do not always lead to the development of antibodies. Semmelweis University rector Béla Merkely continues to defend the vaccine, but the criticism is rapidly increasing.
Since its establishment, the private Facebook group called “Vaccinated with Sinopharm with Negative Laboratory Test Results,” has grown to host five thousand members. The organization continues to call for government officials or health experts to do something about the lack of antibodies they have after two vaccinations with Sinopharm.
Semmelweis Rector Continues to Defend Sinopharm
Semmelweis University rector Béla Merkely is a vocal supporter of Sinopharm who has stated that the results of personal antibody testing kits cannot be trusted. A cardiologist by profession, Merkely stands by his assertion that different types of immunity develop depending on various vaccinations and infections, thus making it difficult to compare them through antibody levels alone.
Merkely emphasized that following vaccination, the number of antibodies deteriorates, while memory cells “initiate cell immunity,” if necessary. He is confident that regardless of immunity levels,
We need to get those two vaccinations in our shoulders, and once we have them, we need to lay back, and not get tested for antibodies.”
The rector has even offered free, special tests at Semmelweis University for people who tested negative for antibodies two weeks after their second inoculation.
They will be measuring antibodies through blood tests, and every participant must bring their vaccination documents and copies of their immunity tests. Those who wish to be tested can register at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Three Antibody Tests, All of Them Negative
One retired rheumatologist, Hajnalka Bodó, told 24.hu that she had written to Merkely stating that she had taken three antibody tests after being fully vaccinated with Sinopharm in March, and all three of her tests came back negative.
Biologist Balázs Sarkadi told
Telex in April that “we are increasingly certain that antibodies do in fact show how effective a vaccine is. It appears quite safe that if antibodies against the virus’ spike protein appear, they will provide good protection.”
Bodó raised the question in her letter of whether she can get a Pfizer vaccination, and reminded the rector of his previous statement that they have yet to find someone at the university who has received both doses of Sinopharm and not had antibody immunity.
In fact, one of the tests Bodó took followed a professional laboratory test, which Merkely has described as the only credible type of test, however even here the results came back negative. In his response, the rector repeated his claim that the results of antibody tests do not provide answers to protection against Covid.
Bodó asked what test she should take to determine whether she is protected or not, but to this she did not receive a response.
Virologist Ernő Duda Considers Sinopharm Primitive
Virologist and professor at the University of Szeged Ernő Duda told Szabad Európa that it is best not to wait for the government, and that if people do not have antibodies following their vaccinations they should get vaccinated with Pfizer-BioNTech’s vaccine.
Duda disagrees with Merkely’s assertion that protection cannot be measured. On the contrary, he believes that the level of neutralizing antibodies must be tested.
He does not consider it a problem if a minimal number of people have low antibody levels, but if half of the individuals inoculated with a certain vaccine have not developed the necessary amount of antibodies, then that’s a problem.
With every vaccine, even with Pfizer, there are certain vaccinated individuals who do not develop immunity, or only have very low levels of immunity, but this cannot be determined from the outside, it must be measured.”
Duda has even related the planned production of the Chinese vaccine in Debrecen’s upcoming vaccine factory as the employment of primitive technology. He is certain that for the same amount of money BioNTech could open a factory in Hungary.
This is like if they would start producing Ford Model T-s at a Mercedes factory.”
The virologist also raised the question of why Hungary included elderly people in its Sinopharm vaccinations when they were not included in significant numbers for the vaccine’s clinical trials. The National Institute of Pharmacy and Nutrition (OGYÉI) no doubt saw this before providing a license.
Featured photo illustration by György Varga/MTI