According to an open letter signed by parents, children in China are being diagnosed with diabetes after getting Chinese COVID-19 vaccines. The majority of them are tied to Sinopharm and Sinovac, two of China’s top COVID-19 vaccine manufacturers.
When he saw other children snacking, the 5-year-old kindergartner’s eyes filled up with tears. Snacking has been a luxury for the boy since he was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes in late January. He was diagnosed o ne and a half months after receiving his second dose of a Chinese COVID-19 vaccine.
According to his father, the constant finger pricking required to monitor his blood sugar level has left puncture marks on every finger of both of the boy’s hands. Every day, he takes four doses of insulin, and each meal is weighed and measured for carbs.
According to an open letter signed by parents in this cohort, the boy is one of 600 to 1,000 Chinese children who were diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes between October and May of last year. In late October, Beijing launched a statewide vaccination campaign for children aged 3 to 11 years old, the age group that includes the majority of diabetic patients.
Their parents wrote an open letter on the eve of International Children’s Day, May 31, begging for public notice.
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“At first, we didn’t link it to vaccines,” they wrote in the letter, which was first published on a site run by Wei Boxing, a Chinese health care activist. “But thinking back, our children didn’t have any change in lifestyle or diet, the only change was getting the vaccine, and they got symptoms after the vaccination,” they wrote.
As of June 11, the letter has received over 300,000 views and 800 comments. Many of the commenters were concerned parents who shared their experiences. They left their phone numbers and requested to be added to a WeChat group of people who indicated they or a family member had had serious adverse effects after receiving Chinese COVID-19 vaccines.
When the immune system targets and destroys beta cells in the pancreas, which create insulin and regulate blood sugar levels, type 1 diabetes occurs. Excessive thirst, frequent urination, unintended weight loss, irritability, hunger, fatigue, and blurred vision are all warning indicators.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it most commonly affects children and young adults, particularly those between the ages of 13 and 14, however it can affect anyone at any age. The disease could be caused by genes, viruses, or other environmental factors.
Hundreds of parents claimed that the COVID-19 vaccines caused their children to develop leukemia, prompting the parents’ letter. Many people with leukemia are between the ages of three and eleven.
As of mid-February in China, 86.4 percent of children aged 3 to 11 years old and all children aged 12 to 17 had received their full vaccination.
Parents of diabetic children who had recently been diagnosed stated they first created a group on WeChat to offer treatment advice. After the first group’s membership swelled to 500 members, the maximum amount allowed for a WeChat group, they launched two more. According to the open letter, almost 600 of them have registered their real names with the group.
On Nov. 5, the 5-year-old boy received his first dose, which was followed by a second dose a month later. From Jan. 15, he began to experience excessive thirst and frequent urination, according to his father.
It was difficult for him to reconcile being denied small pleasures that he and his peers had taken for granted, especially on June 1, International Children’s Day, when all of the kindergarteners were celebrating with a buffet.
His father, Wang Bin (alias), from the port city of Ningbo in eastern China’s Zhejiang Province, told the next day, “He wept so hard because we were always taking him home to eat.” Wang’s wife got him chicken wings and cake for dinner to console him.
Following that, the boy’s blood glucose levels spiked to 306 mg/dL, a dangerous level that might have put him in a coma, according to his parents.
Following her son’s diagnosis, the mother, who had quit her job, rushed to give him an insulin shot. She kept a tight eye on his blood sugar levels after that and hardly closed her eyes the rest of the night.
Wang, a delivery driver, considered buying a glucose monitor to help his son, but the cost—450 yuan ($67) every half month—was exorbitant for the family, especially since Wang is the sole breadwinner and they have car loans and a mortgage to pay.
Due to the regime’s decades-long one-child policy, which was finally abolished in 2016, most Chinese families, like Wang’s, have only one kid. The parents noted in the letter that their children are “everything we live for and everything we have.”
“Each time a new member joins [the WeChat group], our heart would skip a beat,” the parents stated. “Type 1 diabetes is a lifelong disease. Our children have lost the joys of childhood and youth. They have become a group of patients.”
On his website, Wei, the health-care activist, claims to have received information on over 300 diabetic cases in which symptoms appeared after taking Chinese vaccines made at home.
He claims that the majority of them are tied to Sinopharm and Sinovac, two of China’s top COVID-19 vaccine manufacturers. A small number of the patients had received a vaccination from Anhui Zhifei Longcom Biopharmaceutical, which is also approved for use in Colombia, Indonesia, and Uzbekistan. The first two are inactivated vaccines, which include killed copies of the virus, while the third is a protein subunit vaccine, which is manufactured with isolated viral proteins.
Wei found that almost two-thirds of the samples he looked at were between the ages of 3 and 12.
The Chinese government refused to confirm or deny if the vaccine caused any negative effects.
Guangdong provincial health officials responded on May 30 to a case report in which a child developed Type 1 diabetic symptoms three days after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine in 2021. They said the case “doesn’t preclude causal relationship with vaccination,” but that it was “unlikely to be an adverse reaction to preventative inoculation.” Prior to vaccination, the child had a high blood sugar level, according to the doctors.
“Honestly, we don’t think local governments should rush into such conclusions,” wrote the diabetic children’s parents. “Medical development is a result of clinical studies. Since our children have Type 1 diabetes after a vaccine injection, and they belong to a certain group, even if no prior evidence indicates the two are linked, what happened to them should receive serious attention.”
Dong Yuhong, who previously worked as a senior medical expert for antiviral drug development at Novartis, expressed his dissatisfaction with the authorities’ indiscriminate dismissal.
“Asserting that ‘COVID-19 vaccines have nothing to do with leukemia and Type 1 diabetes’ without careful medical analysis is irresponsible,” said Dong, a Swiss biotech company’s chief scientific officer. The issue with such declarations, she claims, is that they are “too absolute.”
According to a 2018 population-based BMJ study, China has one of the lowest rates of Type 1 diabetes in the world, with an average of 1.01 patients per 100,000 people and roughly 1.93 in the 0-14 age range.
Dong cited clinical and case studies warning of possible heart inflammation from mRNA and protein-based COVID-19 vaccines, as well as those warning of mRNA vaccines’ risk of acute hepatitis. Both of these autoimmune diseases appear to be helped by the vaccine’s spike protein.
“In theory, the vaccine could trigger an immune response targeting the insulin-producing beta cells,” she explained, using the same analogy. “This is not impossible.”
She went on to say that this might apply to any COVID-19 vaccine, including mRNA, inactivated, and protein-based vaccines.
In a March Lancet study of 181,280 COVID-19 patients, researchers discovered that individuals who were infected were 40 percent more likely to develop Type 2 diabetes. In a June 2021 blog post, Francis Collins, then-director of the National Human Genome Research Institute, highlighted the “troubling connection” between diabetes and acute COVID-19 infection, citing two NIH-funded studies that confirmed infection of pancreatic beta cells in people who died of COVID-19 infection.
This should also raise concerns about the vaccine’s possible risks, according to Dong.
“Whether it’s the vaccine or the virus, both contain the spike protein that could trigger diabetes,” she said.
“Getting infected and getting the vaccine could both lead to autoimmune attacks and chronic inflammation, and result in damage in insulin cells.”
‘The Vaccine Is the Cause’
Despite the fact that the vaccine was not compulsory in China, parents were under a lot of pressure to get their children vaccinated. When the teacher instructed his class to obtain a second shot, Yang Yi’s (alias) 12-year-old son had just had an appendectomy. The Sinovac vaccines were given to both Yang and Wang’s sons.
“The teacher said they can’t go to school if they are not vaccinated, so everyone has to get the shots,” said Yang . She waited a month before caving in in mid-December.
Yang noticed the boy eating and drinking a lot more than normal after that, even though he was losing weight. In March, he was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes.
She explained, “No one in our family has had diabetes.” Many people, according to Yang, have not made their diabetes diagnosis public. She is aware of at least 30 such cases in her hometown of Hefei, the capital of the eastern Chinese province Anhui. “In writing, they [authorities] say it’s coincidental. Not a single organization dares to suggest that the vaccine may be the cause ,” she continued, “but they know it well in their hearts.” “The vaccine is the cause.”
Even as concerns spread on social media, little has been said in Chinese news channels regarding the potential negative effects of homemade vaccines. However, different COVID-19 vaccines have been associated to diabetes in earlier studies.
At least two Japanese women, ages 51 and 73, acquired Type 1 diabetes after receiving the Moderna mRNA vaccines. According to the case studies, neither of the women’s family had an autoimmune condition.
Even if a person has a family history of diabetes, an external cause such as vaccination might hasten the disease’s development, according to Dong, but it’s difficult to say how much of an impact each component plays.
Wu Ming (alias) from Fujian Province on China’s southeastern coast believes the diabetes cases are not isolated incidents. Her 3-year-old, who is now insulin-dependent, began urinating frequently during the night in March, a month after receiving his first dose of COVID-19 vaccine. He was admitted to the hospital for two weeks for diabetic ketoacidosis, a buildup of blood acids known as ketones that can be life-threatening, after another Sinovac vaccination shot in March, followed by a meningococcal vaccine injection.
“When we went to buy blood sugar testing devices, a seller asked us in surprise: ‘Are you guys getting it for your child? Is it because of the vaccine?’ Even they had such alertness to [the issue],” she said.