China has promised to provide millions of vaccines against the Coronavirus to countries around the world. It is ready to be delivered

China has promised to provide millions of vaccines against the Coronavirus to countries around the world. It is ready to be delivered

A security worker wears a face mask, a surgical gown, and rubber gloves. Anyone entering this part of the warehouse is required to either complete two weeks of quarantine or wear a head-to-toe protective suit.

In the coming months, China will send hundreds of millions of doses of coronavirus vaccines to countries that have conducted last-stage trials for their leading candidates. Chinese leaders have also promised a growing list of priority developing countries to obtain their successful vaccines.

Yanzhong Huang, a senior fellow for global health at the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington, said vaccines could be used by Beijing “as a foreign policy tool to enhance soft power and demonstrate international influence.”

Earlier in the epidemic, China’s efforts to lobby by donating masks and other supplies to countries hard hit by the virus were hit. Reports Of poor quality supplies, and Charges Beijing has been launching a disinformation campaign to change the coronavirus story.

Vaccine diplomacy in Beijing, Huang He said, he could give her another chance.

Vaccine diplomacy

In China, there are currently five coronavirus candidates from four companies that have reached stage 3 clinical trials, which is the last and most important step in testing before seeking regulatory approval.

After the Coronavirus has largely been wiped out within its borders, Chinese drugmakers have had to search abroad for places to test the effectiveness of their vaccines. Together, they launched a third phase of trials in at least 16 countries.

In return, many host countries promise early access to successful vaccines – and in some cases, the technical know-how to manufacture them locally.

Sinovac BiotechThe Beijing-based Nasdaq-listed pharmaceutical company has signed deals to provide 46 million doses of the Covid-19 vaccine. Brazil And 50 million doses for Turkey. It will also save 40 million vaccine volume doses – concentrate the vaccine before dividing it into small vials to me Indonesia For local production.
CanSino Biologics, which has developed a vaccine for the Coronavirus with a Chinese Army research unit, will deliver 35 million doses of its vaccine to Mexico, One of five host countries for its trials.
China National Biotec Group (CNBG), a unit of the state-owned giant China National Pharmaceutical Group (Sinopharm), has been less open about its deals. The two vaccine candidates are undergoing phase three of trials in 10 countries, mostly in the Middle East and South America. In the United Arab Emirates, the ruler of Dubai is Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum volunteering For vaccination in experiments, the vaccine is approved for emergency use. The Emirati company, in partnership with Sinopharm, hopes to produce BIN 75 and 100 million doses Next year.
Chairman of the Sinopharm Liu Jing Chen He said Last month, dozens of countries ordered the company’s vaccines. He did not name the countries or say how much doses they suggested, but he said CNBG is capable of producing more than 1 billion doses in 2021.

“China not only has the political will (for vaccine diplomacy), but it also has a strong capacity to achieve this,” Huang said.

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Because China has contained the virus to a large extent, there is no urgent need to vaccinate every single member of its 1.4 billion people. “This gives it this leverage … to make deals with countries that need vaccines,” he said.

‘Healthy Silk Road’

China’s global vaccine campaign stands in stark contrast to the Trump administrationAmerica firstWho focuses on it Vaccinate its citizens Before those anywhere else.

“Until now, we have not heard from the United States saying or suggesting that it will allocate a percentage of its vaccine to support poor countries. This puts China in a better position to use the vaccine to serve its foreign policy goals,” Huang said.

In October, China joined a global initiative supported by the World Health Organization to ensure the rapid and equitable distribution of Covid-19 vaccines to rich and poor countries alike.

The project, known as COVAX, is designed to dissuade governments from stocking up on coronavirus vaccines and focus instead on vaccinating vulnerable groups in each country. But the United States was a pariah, In part, that’s because President Donald Trump did not want to work with the WHO, leaving the global public health leadership void for China to fill.

From the start, Chinese leaders have repeatedly emphasized that Chinese vaccines are for sharing, especially with the developing world.

In May, Chinese President Xi Jinping Tell The annual assembly of the World Health Organization said that China will make its Corona virus vaccine a “global public good,” describing it as “the country’s contribution to ensuring access to the vaccine and its affordability in developing countries.”

In a video summit with African leaders in June, Xi pledged that “once the development and deployment of the Covid-19 vaccine in China is completed, African countries will be among the first to benefit.”

In August, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said Beijing would give priority access to Cambodia, Myanmar, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam. Other countries that Chinese officials have promised are Afghanistan and Malaysia.

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Many of these countries are also in Beijing’s Belt and Road Initiative, which is a multi-billion dollar infrastructure and trade program that has lost some of its power during the epidemic. Recently, Chinese officials have intensified talks about “Silk Road HealthAnd at the WHO meeting in May, Xi pledged to donate $ 2 billion Over two years to help countries cope with the epidemic. Beijing also offered A billion dollar loan To Latin America and the Caribbean to obtain coronavirus vaccines.
China will double its global efforts towards a vaccine for Coronavirus
But there are signs that Chinese vaccine diplomacy will not always be smooth sailing. In Brazil, it was Sinovac’s CoronaVac vaccine involved In a political dispute between President Jair Bolsonaro – known for his tough anti-China stance – and São Paulo Governor, Joao Doria, who is expected to contest Bolsonaro in the country’s next presidential election in 2022. In Bangladesh, Senovac has been suspended due to a Funding dispute.
International public health experts also questioned China’s emergency use program, which Nearly one million Chinese have been vaccinated With experimental vaccines before their safety has been fully demonstrated through clinical trials.

Then there is the issue of effectiveness. Last month, Pfizer and Moderna announced that preliminary results showed their vaccines were more than 90% effective, while another candidate produced by the University of Oxford in conjunction with AstraZeneca had an average effectiveness of 70%. So far, none of the Chinese vaccine candidates has announced any preliminary results of the effectiveness, although company executives have repeatedly emphasized their safety, and insisted that no serious negative effects have been observed on the volunteers who were vaccinated.

Cold storage

Compared to Pfizer and Moderna, Chinese vaccines have a crucial advantage – most of them do not require freezing temperatures for storage, which makes transportation and distribution much easier, especially in developing countries that lack cold storage capabilities.

Kate O’Brien, director of the World Health Organization’s Immunization and Vaccine Division, likens vaccine development to building a base camp on Everest. But the climax is really about getting vaccines. He said at a press conference Last month.

The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines use pieces of a genetic material called messenger RNA (mRNA) to stimulate the body to make artificial pieces of the coronavirus and stimulate the immune response – a new technology not used in current vaccines.

But mRNA is subject to lysis at room temperature. A modern vaccine They should be stored at -20 ° C (-4 ° F) or fridge temperatures for up to 30 days. Pfizer vaccine It should be stored at an extremely cold temperature of -75 ° C (-103 ° F), and used within five days once cooled at higher temperatures.
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In the meantime, both Sinopharm and Sinovac are using an ancient approach that has long been proven effective in other vaccines, such as polio and influenza vaccines. Their Coronavirus vaccines use an inactivated whole virus to stimulate the body to develop immunity, and you only need to store them at standard refrigerator temperatures. 2˚C to 8˚C (36 degrees Fahrenheit to 46 degrees Fahrenheit). The CanSino vaccine, which uses a common cold virus called Adenovirus 5 to transfer genetic parts of the Coronavirus to the body, can also be kept at a temperature of 2 to 8 degrees Celsius.

However, the required temperatures must be maintained throughout all stages of transportation, from leaving the production facility to airport storage and finally global distribution.

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Cainiao, the logistics arm of the Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba, will help distribute the Chinese vaccines once it is given the green light. It says its comprehensive climate control infrastructure is ready and ready.

The company entered into a partnership with Shenzhen Baoan International Airport, which was recently completed Received Certificate of pharmaceutical logistics services from the International Air Transport Association. A cold chain warehouse was built in 2019 for food and frozen goods. Earlier this year, it was diverted to store coronavirus test kits – and now vaccines. The airport said on its website that it wants to make Shenzhen “a global base for the delivery of the Covid-19 vaccine.”
Cainiao has partnered with Ethiopian Airlines to distribute Chinese-made coronavirus vaccines abroad.

Cainiao is also partnering with Ethiopian Airlines, which will send Chinese vaccines to the Middle East and then Africa. Since the epidemic, the airline has transported more than 3,000 tons of medical supplies from Shenzhen to Europe, Africa, the Middle East and South America.

But Cainiao is also looking to add more avenues for greater global reach, according to its CEO, Wan Lin.

“Of course, we are not completely sure of the exact demand for that, but we are definitely building our capacity to prepare for that,” said Wan.

CNN’s Emma Reynolds contributed to writing this story.

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