Worries around the Chinese Sinopharm vaccine have resurfaced after insufficient antibody levels were recorded in many people who received both vaccinations in Hungary. While those who defend the vaccine assert that people can still have cell immunity, there is increasing evidence that this is not the case. Those wishing to raise awareness on the issue have joined a Facebook group, sending letters to Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, Chief Medical Officer Cecília Müller, and Hungarian healthcare professionals.
There are more than 3.6 thousand members in the rapidly growing “People Vaccinated with Sinopharm with Negative Laboratory Tests,” closed Facebook group. The purpose of the group is to ensure testing and revaccination if necessary for people who have been vaccinated with the Sinopharm vaccine but have little to no antibodies in their immune system.
Many in Hungary Requesting Certainty on Sinopharm Vaccine
Beáta Englohner, who founded the group after her mother did not show immunity following both inoculations, told 24.hu that “we are not anti-vaccination, we are just worried about our parents.”
Englohner, who has now found out that there are many in the same difficult situation as her and her 76-year-old mother, told Szabad Európa that she considers it her mistake that she convinced her mother to get the vaccine.
The reason why I created the group was because I consider it my mistake that I convinced her to get the Chines vaccine. It is true that there was pressure from the family doctor, they told mom that she would either accept this or be taken off the list.”
The group has sent letters to Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, chief medical officer Cecília Müller, and multiple health experts asking for help. They have shared over 170 lab results showing a lack of immunity despite vaccination.
The National Public Health Center (NNK) has responded to the organization’s letters, saying that there are currently no opportunities for third vaccinations, and that such antibody tests are not trustworthy in this case.
Vaccines against Covid-19, created with various technologies, develop immunity in the body in differing ways. This is why international health organizations do not suggest serological tests for people to evaluate immunity.”
Large-scale testing of the immunity provided by Hungary’s vaccines is allegedly underway, but the government operation is being kept in closed doors. Universities have also begun performing such tests.
Not Just Elderly People Receiving Negative Antibody Tests
It is not only those above the age of sixty who have received negative antibody tests. Mariann, a mother of two, told Szabad Európa that she is only 36, but did not develop immunity either.
Everything continues as it did before my vaccination. I do not go shopping, I order. I walk around wearing a mask and I use hand sanitizer. And I am not calm, since my son is in kindergarten.”
Virologist Says Third Vaccinations Necessary for Some
Virologist Miklós Rusvai told ATV Start that every fifth person above the age of 60 who has been vaccinated with Sinopharm does not develop immunity. Rusvai considers it crucial that if, four weeks following their second vaccination, an individual does not have enough antibodies in their system, they should receive a third vaccination with a different vaccine.
In fact, according to the virologist, some doctors have already begun providing third vaccinations with Sinopharm.
Rusvai has heard of instances in Romania where people have begun receiving their third inoculations as well. The United Arab Emirates and Bahrein have already begun providing third inoculations to those vaccinated with Sinopharm, with the latter using Pfizer to replace Sinopharm.
What About Cell Immunity?
Cell immunity has become a popular counterargument to the lack of antibodies one may have, but there is increasing evidence that cell immunity is affiliated with antibody immunity.
László Puskás, the managing director of a Hungarian lab’s cell immunity test on 50 individuals, told Népszava that “based on experiences thus far, it is probable that those who did not develop antibody immunity are unlikely to develop cell immunity as well.”
Puskás added that there have not been enough tests to make any specific conclusions.
Széchenyi Prize winning immunologist and professor emeritus of Semmelweis University, András Falus, supports this argument, saying that antibody and cell immunity cannot be separated in the way that they are often spoken of.
They say that not only the antibodies, but the memory cells must be considered in the immune reaction. Although a cellular immune response may be present, it cannot be mechanically separated from the antibody immune response: If there are no antibody titers, it is unlikely that there is an adequate cellular immune response.”
Elderly People Suggested to be Most At Risk
A ten thousand participant Sinopharm test was held in Serbia, which found that between the ages of 20 and 65, the vaccine performed well in 90 percent of cases. Still, two issues it found were that immunity typically only develops two weeks after the second vaccination, and that the antibody response is significantly weaker for those above the age of 65, especially men above 70.
Immunologist Ernő Duda, a professor at the University of Szeged, told Magyar Hang that it is no surprise that there are many Hungarians who have not developed antibody immunity, since Hungary used Sinopharm on people above the age of 60 just like it did with any adult age group.
Duda said the use of Sinopharm on elderly people should be tested consistently and vaccinations should be provided if necessary, “so that they can develop immunity before the virus’ spread in the Fall.”
Semmelweis Rector Defends Sinopharm
Béla Merkely, rector of Semmelweis University, said that the level of antibodies is not measurable exactly. Merkely, a cardiologist by profession, said that depending on vaccinations and infections, “differing types of immunity develop,” which “cannot be compared as one.”
Merkely said that memory cells, referring to cell immunity, are able to “remember” how to create antibodies, and in the case of meeting the virus they “can step into action immediately,” resulting in a maximal reaction which stops affliction.
The Semmelweis rector says that the antibody tests which people conduct on their own are “not applicable to anything.”
Featured photo illustration by Csaba Krizsán/MTI