China's Center of Disease Control and Prevention boss Gao Fu says reporting of his remarks that China-developed coronavirus vaccines weren't effective were "a complete misunderstanding."
In an interview with Chinese publication the Global Times, Gao said he was offering a scientific vision only about how scientists around the world can improve the efficacy of vaccines that should help protect people from the novel coronavirus.
Gao added that to up the efficacy of vaccines that pharmaceuticals developed within months, vaccination procedures should be adjusted.
The health official said news outlets and social media platforms misunderstood his comments over the weekend that Chinese vaccines "don't have very high protection rates."
Gao's comments in question were picked up by multiple news outlets, including The New York Times and The Associated Press.
The Associated Press referred to Gao's statements as "a rare admission," as there have been earlier concerns from medical experts about the reported low efficacy rate of vaccines developed by Chinese pharmaceuticals.
The outlet reported that Gao made the comments Saturday, at a conference in Chengdu. He was quoted to have said that the matter is "under formal consideration whether we should use different vaccines from different technical lines for the immunization process."
Wang Huaqing, another Centers for Disease Control and Prevention official, when asked for a comment regarding Gao's statements, reportedly said work is underway for mRNA-based vaccines and that the vaccines are already on the clinical trial stage.
Earlier this year, Brazilian officials said that Beijing-based company Sinovac's CoronaVac vaccine only had an efficacy rate of more than 50%.
In comparison, the BioNTech vaccine developed by Moderna and Pfizer, was reported to have around 90% in efficacy rate.
Meanwhile, China has taken the lead in global distribution of COVID-19 vaccines despite concerns on efficacy and pending review for authorization from the World Health Organization.
More than 60 countries have received Chinese coronavirus vaccines so far, including Guyana, Laos, Zimbabwe in Africa and other Southeast Asian nations.
Before the pandemic started, China was considered a small player in the global vaccine market. As the race for more effective vaccines continues, Chinese vaccine makers are said to have shipped around 80 million doses abroad.
UNICEF data estimated that almost 700 million doses had been administered worldwide as of April. If China's 80 million doses overseas are added to its more than 145 million administered at home turf, the country makes up around a third of the worldwide administered doses.