China promises 2 billion vaccines to the world by the end of the year
TAIPEI, Taiwan (AP) – Chinese President Xi Jinping has pledged that 2 billion doses of Chinese vaccines will be delivered to the world during this year, an increase that would add to the country’s efforts as the world’s largest exporter of COVID-19 vaccines.
Xi’s announcement was made at the International Forum on COVID-19 Vaccine Cooperation, state media reported Wednesday, which China hosted virtually.
That figure likely includes the 770 million doses that China has already given or exported since September last year, according to the Foreign Ministry. Most of the Chinese photos have been exported under bilateral agreements. It’s unclear whether the figure also includes agreements with the COVAX mechanism where two Chinese vaccine makers will provide up to 550 million doses.
Xi also pledged to donate $ 100 million to the UN-backed COVAX program, which aims to distribute vaccines to low- and middle-income countries, the state-run Xinhua news agency said on Wednesday evening.
Vaccine distributions have been markedly uneven as rich countries now consider booster shots to their citizens and poorer countries struggle to get enough vaccines for a first dose.
“Over 4 billion vaccines have been administered worldwide, but over 75% of them have gone to just 10 countries,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told the vaccine forum .
Hundreds of millions of Chinese vaccines, the vast majority of which come from Sinopharm and Sinovac, have already been given to people in many countries around the world as many desperately seek access to a vaccine.
However, the vaccines were followed by questions and concerns, especially as the highly transmissible delta variant spread and once again spiked the death toll from COVID-19.
In Indonesia, which relied heavily on the Sinovac shot, the government said it was planning reminders for health workers, using some of the newly delivered Moderna doses, after reports that some of the workers health workers who died since June had been fully vaccinated with the Chinese Tir vaccine.
Access to vaccines has not only been hampered by inequalities, but also dominated by geopolitics.
China has been accused of using vaccines as leverage in diplomatic relations. In June, diplomats told The Associated Press that China was threatening to suspend vaccines to pressure Ukraine to withdraw from a statement calling for further scrutiny of how China was treating ethnic and religious minorities in the Xinjiang region.
President Joe Biden was keen to say that the vaccine donations would come without “pressure for favors or potential concessions” when the US donation plans were announced in June.
The White House said on Tuesday that the United States had donated 110 million doses, most of which via COVAX coordinated by Gavi, a vaccine alliance.
Japan has also stepped up donations to the region, pledging 30 million doses of the vaccine through COVAX and other channels. It has already donated several million vaccines under bilateral agreements.
Taiwan was one of those recipients of aid from Japan, after the island faced an epidemic that strained its health system in May and June. Taiwan had accused China, which claims the autonomous island as its own territory, of interfering in the agreements to purchase the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.