China goes full steam ahead to push international anti-pandemic cooperation
COVID-19 vaccines donated by the Chinese government to the Republic of the Congo arrive in Brazzaville, capital of the Republic of the Congo, March 10, 2021. [Photo/Courtesy of Chinese Embassy in the Republic of the Congo]
As the COVID-19 pandemic is still wreaking havoc in the world, China, upholding the idea of building a community of common health for mankind, has gone all out to help other developing countries to combat the virus.
It has vigorously pushed ahead with international cooperation on COVID-19 vaccines and made contributions to winning a victory over the disease by promoting the equitable distribution of vaccines around the world, providing other developing countries with vaccines and other urgently needed medical supplies, and encouraging Chinese vaccine developers to build overseas factories for production.
To date, China has provided more than one billion doses of finished and bulk COVID-19 vaccines for over 100 countries and international organizations, and will strive to provide a total of two billion doses throughout this year.
“I would like to take this opportunity to announce that on top of the US$100 million donation to COVAX, China will donate an additional 100 million doses of vaccines to fellow developing countries within this year,” said Chinese President Xi Jinping while addressing the 13th BRICS Summit via video link on Sept. 9.
China has actively supported and participated in COVAX in a bid to make COVID-19 vaccines more accessible and affordable in developing countries.
During the first half of the year, vaccines developed by Chinese companies Sinopharm and Sinovac Biotech were validated by the WHO for emergency use. Soon, the two companies took action to safeguard production and had consultations with the Gavi on vaccine supply. In July, their products were included in the COVAX Facility portfolio.
According to relevant purchase agreements, the two Chinese companies will provide 110 million doses for COVAX by the end of October, and the latter will determine the specific distribution plan after taking into full consideration the purchase intentions of countries. In the meantime, they have agreed to supply vaccines to COVAX in the years to come and are in discussions with the latter for the specific time and plan of future supply.
The first batch of around nine million doses provided by Sinopharm were delivered to Pakistan and Bangladesh in early August. At the end of last month, the first batch of nearly 570,000 doses of inactivated vaccines provided by Sinovac Biotech for COVAX arrived in Algiers, capital of Algeria.
Since the outbreak of the pandemic, China has provided member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) with more than 190 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines, along with other anti-epidemic supplies.
The two sides have launched the China-ASEAN Public Health Cooperation Initiative and continued to improve the “China-ASEAN vaccine friends” platform to promote policy communication and information sharing on vaccines.
In the face of the COVID-19 outbreaks, China has been an important comrade-in-arms of ASEAN in establishing an immunity defense line, according to Chea Munyrith, president of the Cambodian Chinese Evolution Researcher Association.
Ecuadorian President Guillermo Lasso recently thanked the international community, especially China, for helping the country achieve its first-stage vaccination plan.
“We must especially thank China, its president, the government and the Chinese people, who understood our urgency and provided us with over 65 percent of the vaccines that we applied in the first phase of our vaccination plan,” he said during a celebration marking the milestone on Sept. 9.
China’s COVID-19 vaccines, whose safety is guaranteed, are the most accessible ones among all vaccines to developing countries, noted Esteban Ortiz, a public health expert at the University of the Americas of Ecuador.
On Sept. 2, another batch of anti-epidemic supplies donated by China to Iraq arrived in the Iraqi capital city of Baghdad, before which the country had received three batches of COVID-19 vaccines donated by the Chinese government.
From helping Iraq build laboratories for testing COVID-19 to donating vaccines, China’s assistance has played an important role in the efforts of Iraq to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, and the newly arrived anti-epidemic supplies from China will help, support and enhance measures taken to confront the pandemic in Iraq, said Ali al-Baldawi, director-general of the Iraqi State Company for Marketing Drugs and Medical Appliances.
Besides providing finished vaccines for foreign countries, China has also promoted localized production of COVID-19 vaccines overseas, trying to ensure the accessibility and affordability of COVID-19 vaccines in developing countries.
So far, Chinese vaccine enterprises have carried out cooperation with foreign partners in producing vaccines in many countries, including the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, and Indonesia.
On Sept.9, the first factory producing vaccines developed by China in Europe was inaugurated in Belgrade, capital of Serbia. The factory will start producing COVID-19 vaccine developed by Sinopharm next April, according to a statement published by the office of Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic.
Besides satisfying the needs of Serbia, the factory will also supply vaccines to other countries in the Balkan Peninsula and other regions in Europe, said the statement.
Chinese COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective and play an important role in Uzbekistan’s fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, said Behzod Musaev, Deputy Prime Minister for Social Development of Uzbekistan, at a seminar on COVID-19 vaccination on Sept. 7.
Statistics from the Ministry of Health of Uzbekistan show that most of the COVID-19 vaccines administered in the country at present are recombinant protein COVID-19 vaccine developed by China.
During a recent inspection tour of a local factory producing COVID-19 vaccines developed by China, Egyptian Health Minister Hala Zayed told reporters that the annual production capacity of the production lines was 200 million doses and could already meet Egypt’s demand for vaccines.
The WHO welcomes the cooperation between China and Egypt in producing COVID-19 vaccines in Egypt, according to Dr. Naeema Al Gasseer, WHO Representative in Egypt. “The cooperation between Egypt and China is a successful model for international cooperation and transfer of global expertise,” said the WHO representative in a statement.