The first meeting of the International Forum on COVID-19 Vaccine Cooperation is held via video link on Aug. 5, 2021. Chinese President Xi Jinping addressed the meeting, which was hosted by Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi, in a written form. (Photo courtesy of China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
Since the outbreak of COVID-19, China has never stopped working together with the rest of the world to fight against the pandemic and weather the trying times.
Convinced that vaccines are a powerful weapon to prevail over the pandemic and revive the economy, the country has so far provided over two billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines for over 120 countries and international organizations, which account for one-third of the total number of doses administered outside China, becoming the biggest provider of outbound vaccines among all countries in the world.
China was among the first to commit to making COVID-19 vaccines a global public good, to support waiving intellectual property rights on the vaccines, and to start joint production of vaccines with other developing countries.
The country has always adhered to the vision of building a community of common health for mankind and joined hands with various parties to improve the availability and affordability of vaccines in developing countries, helping address the global vaccine “distribution deficit” and close the “immunity gap”.
I. China proposes Global Vaccine Cooperation Action Initiative to promote global solidarity against the pandemic
Over 300 million people have been diagnosed with COVID-19, among whom more than 5 million lost their lives; only 5 percent of the population in low-income countries are fully vaccinated against the coronavirus. The COVID-19 epidemic that is wreaking havoc across the world has deeply changed the human society.
Amid the major public health crisis, Chinese President Xi Jinping has actively promoted international anti-epidemic cooperation during important diplomatic events he chaired or attended via video link and his meetings and phone conversations with foreign leaders and heads of international organizations, enhancing global solidarity for fighting the pandemic.
“COVID-19 vaccine development and deployment in China, when available, will be made a global public good. This will be China’s contribution to ensuring vaccine accessibility and affordability in developing countries,” Xi solemnly promised at the opening of the 73rd session of the World Health Assembly in May 2020.
“At the moment, several COVID-19 vaccines developed by China are in Phase III clinical trials. When their development is completed and they are available for use, these vaccines will be made a global public good, and they will be provided to other developing countries on a priority basis,” he said at the General Debate of the 75th Session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) held in September 2020.
In May 2021, the Chinese leader announced at the Global Health Summit five measures taken by China to continuously support global solidarity against COVID-19. China supports its vaccine companies in transferring technologies to other developing countries and carrying out joint production with them, and the country, which has already announced support for waiving intellectual property rights on COVID-19 vaccines, also supports the World Trade Organization (WTO) and other international institutions in making an early decision on this matter, he pointed out.
At Session I of the 16th G20 Leaders’ Summit held in October 2021, Xi proposed a Global Vaccine Cooperation Action Initiative, which includes supporting vaccine companies in conducting joint R&D and production with developing countries, providing more vaccines for developing countries to meet the global vaccination target for 2022 as set by the World Health Organization (WHO), supporting the WTO in making an early decision on waiving intellectual property rights on COVID-19 vaccines, scaling up cross-border trade cooperation to ensure smooth trade in vaccines and related raw and auxiliary materials, advancing mutual recognition of vaccines in accordance with the WHO’s Emergency Use Listing (EUL) as well as providing financial support for global vaccine cooperation, especially for developing countries to access vaccines.
China’s proposals are never empty promises. These are always turned into concrete actions.
The country ranks top in the world in terms of the speed of vaccine R&D and the number of vaccines developed. Its two inactivated COVID-19 vaccines have been included in the EUL and the COVAX procurement list.
Batches of Chinese vaccines have traveled a long journey to other countries, infusing confidence and strength into global solidarity against COVID-19.
As the epidemic continues to rage across the world, China has provided COVID-19 vaccines and medical resources for many countries and regions in the world, making important contributions to the global response to the epidemic, according to Ban Ki-moon, former Secretary-General of the UN.
Lim Jock Hoi, Secretary-General of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), believes that China’s vaccine support and assistance effectively boosted ASEAN members’ response to COVID-19.
Leaders of 37 countries went to the airport to welcome the arrival of Chinese vaccines, and leaders of 32 countries have received Chinese vaccine shots publically. The country’s vaccines have established a good reputation in the world, with their safety and effectiveness widely acknowledged.
After receiving a dose of Chinese vaccine against COVID-19, Chilean President Sebastian Pinera gave a victory gesture in front of the camera.
“Today is an important day because (on) this day we are starting to vaccinate with Chinese vaccines,” Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban said in a video message on his Facebook page.
Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic praised Chinese vaccines as the best ones in the world. He has received injections as well as a booster shot of Chinese vaccine against COVID-19.
For many developing countries, Chinese vaccines are the first batch of vaccines they have received, and the only ones they could get for a long time afterward. Chinese vaccines came just in time and effectively helped many developing countries in urgent need of vaccines with epidemic prevention and control.
Mozambican President Filipe Nyusi believes the arrival of Chinese vaccines marked a historic moment for Mozambique; Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa described the vaccines donated by China as the light at the end of the tunnel; Cambodian Prime Minister Samdech Techo Hun Sen said several times that strategically relying on Chinese vaccines is the most correct decision; and Laureano Ortega Murillo, advisor to Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega, called a batch of Chinese vaccines donated to his country “a great Christmas gift from the Chinese people”.
Because of China’s unremitting efforts, many countries in the world are marching steadily toward the goal of universal vaccination, which is a remarkable achievement, pointed out Faisal Sultan, Special Assistant to the Pakistani Prime Minister on Health.
Now is a critical moment for the world to join hands to fight the epidemic, according to Alexandre Ganan de Brites Figueiredo, director of the Global South Institute in Brazil, who called China the backbone of global solidarity against the virus.
Chinese Ambassador to Chad Li Jinjin (3rd L) delivers COVID-19 vaccines donated by the Chinese government to Chad to the Chadian Minister of Public Health and National Solidarity Abdoulaye Saber Fadoul (2nd L) in N'Djamena, capital Chad, June 2, 2021. (Photo courtesy of the Chinese Embassy in Chad)
II. Chinese vaccines, being accessible to people around the world, are a light of hope for mankind
The COVID-19 pandemic has once again proved that all human beings belong to a community with a shared future. There’s nothing more important than the lives of human beings.
President Xi has reiterated that China will honor its commitment of giving assistance and support to other developing countries, and work to make vaccines a global public good accessible and affordable to people around the world.
Chinese vaccines, being accessible to people around the world, are a light of hope for mankind, which forms a sharp contrast to some countries that are excessively hoarding vaccines and resorting to vaccine nationalism.
The first meeting of the International Forum on COVID-19 Vaccine Cooperation was held online in August, 2021. It was joined by senior officials and representatives from over 20 countries, officials of the UN and other international organizations, as well as representatives from 29 Chinese and foreign vaccine manufacturers. Participating parties reached intended deals of over 1.5 billion doses for the year.
In a joint statement that followed the meeting, to put people and their lives first, a guiding principle for China’s COVID-19 response, was incorporated, calling for more solidarity and cooperation in the fight against the pandemic.
Even while under the tremendous pressure of coronavirus control, China still remains resolute in its commitment of making COVID-19 vaccines a global public product.
It has continued offering vaccines for the rest of the world to the best of its ability, and continued supporting Chinese vaccine enterprises in transferring technologies to and carrying out production cooperation with other developing countries, so as to make the vaccines accessible to more countries, especially developing countries, as early as possible, and join hands with all parties to build a global community of health for all.
China was among the first to join the WHO’s “Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator” initiative, under which it has launched vaccine development cooperation with a number of countries. It has also participated in the COVAX program. Chinese vaccine manufacturers agreed to provide 250 million doses to the program.
The country has set up a national center as a part of the BRICS Vaccine R&D Center to advance collective vaccine research and production, and mutual recognition of standards. It is also a member of the Group of Friends on the Safety and Security of UN Peacekeepers and donates vaccines to UN peacekeeping troops.
China has launched the Initiative for Belt and Road Partnership on COVID-19 Vaccines Cooperation together with over 30 countries that call for fair global distribution of vaccines. It has also constantly improved the “China-ASEAN Vaccine Friends” cooperation platform, initiated a “health shield” for ASEAN countries and donated an additional 150 million doses of COVID vaccines to ASEAN.
To continue its offer of vaccines for Pacific Island countries in need, China put into use the China-Pacific Island Countries Reserve of Emergency Supplies. The country also announced to provide another one billion doses of vaccines to Africa, including 600 million doses as donation.
With concrete actions, China is charting the course for the world in the darkest hours and bringing a spark of hope to the people in developing countries suffering from the rampant virus.
Serrana, a small town in Brazil’s state of Sao Paulo, launched a mass immunization campaign for adults with Chinese-made vaccines from Feb. 17 to April 11 the last year. The campaign soon put the pandemic under control and brought life back to normal, making the small town a leader in recovery performance in the state.
The town now enjoys a sound environment of social health, and local residents are living with dignity thanks to the Chinese-made vaccines, said Serrana Mayor Leonardo Capitelli.
Right by the Manila Bay, which is adjacent to the Philippine capital of Manila, Philippine young man Melvin Chua inserted a letter into a drift bottle and then threw it into the sea. In the letter, he expressed his thanks to China for the assistance it has provided to his country, saying the Chinese vaccines have saved the Philippine people and their families.
“We could not feel more saved and protected. I trust that you will continue to supply the world with the vaccine it needs to save lives and bring the world to its normal state again,” he wrote in the letter.
Under the assistance of Chinese vaccines, the Zimbabwean resort city of Victoria Falls became one of the earliest few towns in the world that have achieved mass immunization. The mayor councilor of the city Somveli Dhlamini sent to China a postcard depicting the most representative view of the Victoria Falls. On the back of the postcard, he wrote: "The Chinese vaccines, Sinopharm and Sinovac, have contributed immensely to the recovery of tourism in Victoria Falls. Thanks to the Government of China for the support."
In March, 2021, Iraq was hit by a ferocious second wave of COVID-19, and vaccines were plunged into short supply. On March 2, a shipment of COVID-19 vaccines donated by the Chinese government arrived in Baghdad, capital of the country, and the health ministry of the country announced a national vaccination plan just hours after the receival.
In August 2021, the first batch of COVID-19 vaccines totaling two million doses that China provided to the COVAX facility arrived in Pakistan’s capital Islamabad and Bangladesh’s capital Dhaka. Mushtaq Hussain, an adviser to Bangladesh's Institute of Epidemiology, Disease Control and Research, expressed his thanks to China on behalf of the Bangladeshi people.
Two months later, mobile vaccination vehicles were deployed on the streets of Argentina, giving shots of the Chinese-made single-dose CanSino COVID-19 vaccines to many local scavengers, a vulnerable group to the disease. These vaccines from China were a great relief for local residents.
Mexican Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard noted that his country will never forget China’s friendly assistance offered at such a hard time.
Charles Onunaiju, director of the Nigeria-based Center for China Studies said China’s promises are a genuine response to the concerns of African countries. A netizen from Sri Lanka also said on social media that he feels closer to China with Chinese vaccine in his veins.
Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic (C) lays the foundation stone for a COVID-19 vaccine production factory in Belgrade, Serbia, the first Chinese vaccine plant in Europe, Sept. 9, 2021. (Photo by Xinhua)
III. A global production network of Chinese vaccines that serves all mankind is taking shape
The Chinese often say that give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.
Today, Chinese bulk vaccines are being filled in vials in Asia, Europe, Africa and Latin America, and then shipped to countries in and around these regions, injecting Chinese confidence and strength into the building of a global immunological barrier.
In March 2021, the first batch of CanSino COVID-19 vaccines produced in Mexico were bottled and delivered. The production line co-built by China's CanSino Biologics Inc. and Mexican firm Drugmex is the first overseas fill-and-finish facility for the CanSino COVID-19 vaccines.
Chairman of the board of Drugmex noted that China has helped Mexico break its bottleneck in localized production of vaccines, and the CanSino has made vaccines accessible to remote areas. “We can constantly improve our techniques and optimize our procedures through the experience shared by China. We appreciate the generous support from the Chinese side,” he said.
In March 2021, the United Arab Emirates (UEA) welcomed the first batch of locally-manufactured COVID-19 inactivated vaccines under license from Chinese vaccine producer Sinopharm. The vaccines were nicknamed “vaccines of life.”
Thanks to the China-UAE vaccine cooperation, the Expo 2020 Dubai was successfully held, said UAE Ambassador to China Ali Obaid Al Dhaheri. China and the UAE have contributed their strength to world peace and development by offering mutual support and making joint efforts to safeguard people’s health and lives.
As of July the last year, one million doses of COVID-19 vaccine licensed by Chinese firm Sinovac had been produced in Egypt. After an inspection tour to a factory that produced the vaccines, one co-built by China and Egypt, Egyptian Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly noted that his country has taken an important step on its path to independent vaccine production. WHO representative in Egypt Naeema Al-Gasseer said the move will further advance Africa’s anti-pandemic progress.
In September 2021, the first Chinese vaccine factory in Europe was commenced in Serbia, which was called a “proof of friendship” by Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic. He noted that the facility is of important significance for the fight against the pandemic in Serbia and even the region at large.
In the same month, a recombinant protein vaccine co-developed by the Institute of Microbiology of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and China's Anhui Zhifei Longcom Biopharmaceutical Co., Ltd. was put into production at Uzbek pharma Jurabek Laboratories. It marked the first time for Uzbekistan to produce a Chinese COVID-19 vaccine at a local facility. At present, around 300,000 doses are being produced by the pharma each day, and the annual production is expected to hit 100 million doses.
A global production network of Chinese vaccines that serves all mankind is taking shape. COVID-19 vaccine projects launched in cooperation with China have entered official or trial operation in 12 countries, and eight countries have signed agreements with Chinese firms on COVID-19 vaccine cooperation, hoping to produce the jabs locally as early as possible. Besides, many other countries are currently negotiating with Chinese firms for cooperation.
China has been providing vaccine aid to other developing countries in need since its vaccines were launched, said He Yaqiong, head of the Department of Industry of Consumer Products, Ministry of Industry and Information Technology. On the basis of meeting domestic demand for vaccination, Chinese enterprises have well coordinated the supplies at home and abroad, He added.
“From launching international cooperation on clinical trials to vaccine aid and exportation, and to the international cooperation on vaccine production, Chinese vaccine enterprises have resolutely practiced the principle of making Chinese vaccines a global public product. Advancing global vaccine equity and accessibility with concrete actions, they are literally delivering the shots to all mankind,” said Liu Jingzhen, chairman of Sinopharm.
“It’s believed that through joint efforts and cooperation, we’ll finally defeat the pandemic that has impacted the whole world,” said Yin Weidong, chairman and CEO of Sinovac.
According to open statistics, Chinese vaccines take a dominant share in some 60 countries, and they are also widely used in half of the top ten countries in terms of total vaccinations or shots per capita.
"China has already made tremendous contributions to the global effort through the rapid development of a number of vaccines and through sharing those vaccines globally. They have made contributions to the COVAX effort and we're very grateful for the contributions that China has made," said CEO of the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations Richard Hatchett.
In the eyes of Raquel León de la Rosa, professor at the Autonomous University of Puebla, Mexico, China’s efforts to promote technology transfer from its vaccine producers to other developing countries, to advance cooperation on vaccine production, and to help other developing countries achieve vaccine accessibility and affordability, mirror the country’s commitment to its promises.
Only through unity, solidarity and cooperation can countries around the world write a new chapter in building a community with a shared future for mankind. China, always among the most active countries to advance international anti-pandemic cooperation, always upholding the public product nature of vaccines, and always contributing to the fair distribution of vaccines, is fully demonstrating a responsible major country’s commitment to justice and its sense of mission.
No winter lasts forever, and every spring is sure to follow. It is believed that the mankind, joining hands to fill the immunity gap, will finally defeat the virus and embrace a brighter future.
中国医药集团有限公司 All Rights Reserved