According to cbc.ca:

The government of Canada's website lists which vaccines are recognized for the purposes of travel — Pfizer-BioNtech, Moderna, AstraZeneca-Oxford, and Johnson and Johnson — and which products aren't sufficient for waiving quarantine requirements, including Sinopharm and the Russian Sputnik V shots.

Why won't Canada accept the Chinese Sinopharm or Russian Sputnik V COVID-19 vaccines? The Sinovac vaccine is recognized by several European countries, so it seems odd that some countries have yet to recognize them and why they approved American vaccines before any other vaccines.

  • 2
    Is there good data on their efficacy? I seem to recall news reports suggesting it was comparatively low. A quick search shows 50-70% for Sinopharm. Also mixed opinions on the Sputnik vaccine, which I'm not qualified to judge.
    – jamesqf
    Sep 8, 2021 at 3:46
  • 3
    There's nothing odd about it. The list of European countries that recognized the Chinese vaccines is relatively small... 8 of 29 in that list.
    – Fizz
    Sep 8, 2021 at 7:13

1 Answer 1


Why should they? Let's take 3 reasons why this is probably not happening.

  1. Canada and China are not getting along that well right now, and that's probably a factor when considering what to do.

  2. China itself is very strict in handling visitors and requires 14 days of quarantine, no ifs or buts. Typically in dealing with these kind of accommodations, reciprocity is key and China is hardly showing an example itself.

All inbound passengers are required to quarantine for at least 14 days upon arrival. Testing upon arrival and for release from quarantine may include blood tests, as well as oral, nasal, and anal swab tests.

Note that the Chinese embassy page (needs translation) does not show any particular relaxation of that requirement, only mentioning the type of testing.

  1. Most worryingly, the Chinese vaccines may not be that great. And that's a legitimate reason for caution. I've had AZ + Pfizer myself, which is approved in Canada, but not recognized much elsewhere. I anticipate that will be a problem if traveling, but, you know what, that's OK, safety and caution first.

the Seychelles, Chile, Bahrain and Mongolia, 50 to 68 percent of the populations have been fully inoculated, outpacing the United States, according to Our World in Data, a data tracking project. All four ranked among the top 10 countries with the worst Covid outbreaks as recently as last week, according to data from The New York Times. And all four are mostly using shots made by two Chinese vaccine makers, Sinopharm and Sinovac Biotech.

“If the vaccines are sufficiently good, we should not see this pattern,” said Jin Dongyan, a virologist at the University of Hong Kong. “The Chinese have a responsibility to remedy this.”

And the WHO's own numbers, even when they challenge the West to recognize Sinopharm, are hardly very reassuring.

WHO’s Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on Immunization (SAGE) has also completed its review of the vaccine. On the basis of available evidence, WHO recommends the vaccine for use in adults 18 years and older, in a two-dose schedule with a spacing of two to four weeks. Vaccine efficacy results showed that the vaccine prevented symptomatic disease in 51% of those vaccinated and prevented severe COVID-19 and hospitalization in 100% of the studied population.

So, 51%, which is shabby at best, but a magical 100% no hospitalization, much better than any Western vaccine? Sure, sure.

Last, as commented by Fizz above, Canada is hardly unique in its caution: only 8 EU countries (out of 27) do recognize Sinopharm. 4 of those are heavily dependent on tourism (Cyprus, Greece, Spain, Malta). At least a fifth, Hungary, has used Sinopharm itself (and isn't that happy about it).

  • Canada may also feel aggrieved by how China screwed them by not giving CanSino final approval to conduct trials in Canada... and open a production facility there. (Eventually they went with Novavax, but that caused delays). macleans.ca/news/canada/…
    – Fizz
    Sep 8, 2021 at 21:13
  • In a larger trial, the rate of preventing hospitalization for Sinopharm/BIBP was lower (also from WHO) ... and this despite not including people with co-morbidities "A large multi-country Phase 3 trial has shown that 2 doses, administered at an interval of 21 days, have an efficacy of 79% against symptomatic SARS-CoV-2 infection 14 or more days after the second dose. Vaccine efficacy against hospitalization was 79%. The trial was not designed and powered to demonstrate efficacy against severe disease in persons with comorbidities, in pregnancy, or in persons aged 60 years and above."
    – Fizz
    Sep 8, 2021 at 21:46

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