Chile has one of the highest COVID-19 vaccination rates in the world, even higher than developed countries like the United Kingdom, the United States and nearly all of Europe, but coronavirus cases there aren’t falling.

Instead, Chile is experiencing a massive surge in infections, with new daily cases more than doubling over the course of the last two months. The disconnect between vaccinations and infections may come down to the efficacy, or lack thereof, of the Chinese vaccine being used in the country.

Chile has administered 69 doses per 100 people of COVID-19 vaccines, 93% of which are coming from China. Those Chinese doses are primarily the CoronaVac vaccine from privately-owned Chinese firm Sinovac.

Chile, with one of the world’s highest vaccination rates, is battling a vicious Covid surge, forcing it to lock down and delay its elections. Chile offers a cautionary tale about relying on Chinese vaccines, which China’s CDC head admitted “don’t have very high protection rates.”

— Brahma Chellaney (@Chellaney) April 20, 2021

Questions have been asked about the effectiveness of Chinese vaccines since the day they were developed. Trials have come to wildly varied conclusions on just how much they work: researchers in Turkey found an 83% efficacy rate, but others in Brazil reported just about 50% effectiveness.

A University of Chile study found the CoronaVac vaccine 56.5% effective two weeks after the second dose is administered, drastically lower than the three vaccines approved for use in the United States, which are nearly 100% effective at preventing serious illness and death from COVID-19. (RELATED: Less Than 0.01% Of Vaccinated Americans Reportedly Later Contracted COVID-19)

Perhaps more importantly, the study found that the vaccine is only 3% effective after the first dose is given. This is a critical difference from Western-developed vaccines like the ones made by Pfizer and Moderna, which provide substantial protection even when the second dose has yet to be given.

That very well may be the chink in Chile’s pandemic armor. 40% of Chileans have received at least one vaccine dose, but less than 30% are fully vaccinated, according to CNN.

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