China pledges 2 billion vaccines globally through year’s end

Aug 6, 2021: Chinese President Xi Jinping pledged 2 billion doses of Chinese vaccines would be supplied to the world through this year, an increase that would add to China’s efforts as the largest global exporter of COVID-19 vaccines.

Xi’s announcement was delivered at the International Forum on COVID-19 Vaccine Cooperation, state media reported Wednesday, which China hosted virtually.

According to the Foreign Ministry, the figure includes 770 million doses that China donated or exported before September last year. Most Chinese shots have been exported under bilateral agreements. It is unclear if the figure also includes the agreements with the COVAX mechanism where two Chinese vaccine manufacturers will provide up to 550 million doses.

Xi also pledged $100million for the UN-sponsored COVAX program, which aims to distribute vaccines to low- and middle-income countries. Vaccine distribution has been unequal, with rich countries now considering issuing booster shots to their citizens and poor countries struggling to get enough vaccines for the first dose. “More than 4 billion vaccines have been administered globally, but more than 75% of them have gone to only 10 countries,” said Tedros Adhanom Ghebrisias, WHO’s director general at the Vaccine Forum.

Millions of Chinese shots, most of them from SinoPharm and Sinovac, have already been given to people in many countries around the world, as many people were anxious to get access to any vaccine. The vaccines, however, have been met with questions and concerns, especially as the highly transferable delta variety spreads and COVID-19 deaths rise again.

In Indonesia, which has relied heavily on Sinovac’s shot, the government said it was planning boosters for health workers, using some new moderna doses, following reports that some fully vaccinated health workers had died since June.

Access to vaccines has not only led to inequality but also to geopolitics. China has been accused of using the vaccine as a diplomatic tool.

President Joe Biden said the vaccine donation would come “without the pressure of favors or potential incentives” when the US announced its funding plans in June.

The White House said Tuesday that the United States had donated 110 million doses, most of which were in collaboration with the Covax, distributed by vaccine alliance Gavi.

Japan has also increased its donations to the region, pledging 30 million doses of the vaccine through COVAX and other channels. It has already donated millions of vaccines through bilateral agreements. Taiwan was one of the beneficiaries of Japan’s aid, following the island’s expansion, which in May and June boosted its healthcare system.

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