China to provide 10m COVID-19 vaccines to developing nations
China on Wednesday announced a plan to provide 10 million coronavirus vaccine doses to developing nations through the global COVAX initiative.
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Foreign ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said China is responding to a request from the World Health Organization as developing countries seek to fill shortages predicted to run through March.
COVAX, coordinated by the World Health Organization and GAVI, the Vaccine Alliance, seeks to ensure low- and middle-income countries have enough shots as wealthy nations have snapped up a large part of the billions of upcoming doses. China joined COVAX on October 8, 2020.
“This is another important measure taken by China to promote the equitable distribution of vaccines, advance international cooperation in fighting the pandemic, and uphold the concept of a global community of health for all,” Wang said at a daily press briefing.
The foreign ministry said last month that three Chinese vaccine makers, Sinovac Biotech, China National Pharmaceutical Group (Sinopharm) and CanSino Biologics, had formally applied for inclusion in the COVAX stockpile.
The WHO, which is reviewing the applications, could make decisions on vaccines made by Sinopharm and Sinovac in March at the earliest, according to a COVAX internal document seen by Reuters.
Noting that the WHO has begun to review the emergency use authorization of China’s vaccine, Wang pledged the continued cooperation of Chinese enterprises and expressed hope that the WHO would complete this work as soon as possible.
“We hope countries in the international community with the capability will swing into action, support COVAX through practical actions, support the work of the World Health Organization, assist developing countries in obtaining vaccines in a timely manner and contribute to … conquering the pandemic at an early date,” he said.
COVAX is due to start rolling out vaccines this month but has secured only a fraction of the 2 billion doses it hopes to buy in 2021. Pfizer last month committed to supply up to 40 million doses of its COVID-19 vaccine this year through COVAX. The facility also has 150 million doses of the vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University.
China has already shipped large numbers of its own vaccine to mainly developing countries, and it has pursued bilateral deals or donations with at least 27 countries. In Turkey alone, Sinovac has struck a deal to sell 50 million doses.
Vaccines from Sinopharm and Sinovac are already being rolled out in several countries, including Brazil, Indonesia, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates.
Both companies’ vaccines are inactivated, relying on a traditional technology of growing and killing a live virus. The virus is then purified before it is given as an injection.
The inactivated vaccines are easier to transport than Pfizer’s mRNA vaccine, which requires ultracold storage, a challenge for many lower-income countries.
Source : Al Jazeera | Photocredit : Google
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