In a statement announcing the Covax deal, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said China is confident it can ramp up production. “We are taking this concrete step to ensure equitable distribution of vaccines, especially in developing countries, and we hope that better performing countries will join and support Covax,” said Hua.
China’s U-turn now leaves two leading countries in the vaccine race, the United States and Russia, outside the alliance. Other supporters are Japan, Great Britain, Germany and the European Union.
The White House said last month it would not join WHO-led Covax because it did not want to be “restricted by multilateral organizations influenced by the corrupt World Health Organization and China”.
The Trump administration has loudly attacked WHO and withdrew funding after agency officials apparently repeated the Chinese government’s speeches and praised Beijing’s response to the pandemic despite Chinese officials. Missteps and cover-ups in the crucial early days. WHO officials too Taiwan locked out, which has had exemplary success in combating the virus because it participated in its forums under political pressure from Beijing.
Despite severe international criticism after the Wuhan outbreak in January, the government quickly got the coronavirus under control at home and started one aggressive diplomatic efforts to improve its image abroad with donations of masks and medical equipment.
While the Chinese government rejected international calls for an investigation into the origins of the virus, it has classified itself as forward-looking and altruistic: Before the WHO meeting in May, Chinese leader Xi Jinping pledged 2 billion US dollars to the population for two years help. 19 response, saying that all future Chinese vaccines would be a “global public good” – a statement the government reiterated on Friday when it announced its participation in Covax.
The Covax program aims to distribute a pool of at least 2 billion vaccines fairly to people at risk in each country. Although the vaccine-producing countries would have to split as part of Covax, participation in the program is like an insurance policy: countries that do not produce home-grown vaccines could be excluded from the global pool if they do not participate.
Officials from the Chinese Center for Disease Control said a Chinese vaccine could be ready for the general public as early as November, while the National Health Commission said China could produce up to 610 million doses of vaccine by 2021 and more than 1 billion doses of vaccine by 2022.
In China, four vaccines are in phase three clinical trials, one of which was jointly developed at a military research institute that has already been administered to soldiers and government officials overseas. The Russian Gamaleya Research Institute and the British company AstraZeneca both have vaccines in the final phase of studies, as do American companies Moderna, Johnson & Johnson and Novavax.
Jerome Kim, director of the International Vaccine Institute, an independent not-for-profit organization established under the United Nations Development Program, commended Xi for calling the vaccine a global public good and said it was important for China to do so economic powerhouse with several vaccine candidates in the EU The last test phase showed “solidarity and support” for the fight against Covid-19.
“It is important that the three organizations that run Covax now have to work to ensure that the Chinese commitment can be fully implemented – that the vaccine from Chinese manufacturers meets the prequalification standards of the WHO, that it is safe, effective and, above all, one reasonable price can be provided, ”said Kim.