China on Wednesday said it would provide 10 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine to the global COVAX program as it seeks to escalate its vaccination talks amid expert speculation that India could be the “engine” to distribute jabs to the world.
China offered to provide vaccines to COVAX as it expected immediate approval for its shots from the World Health Organization (WHO).
COVAX, officially known as the COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access Facility, is a global initiative, aimed at ensuring that low- and middle-income countries gain access during coronavirus treatment.
China has decided to provide 10 million COVID-19 vaccines to COVAX to meet the urgent needs of developing countries, according to a WHO request, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin told a media briefing here.
China last year joined COVAX, led jointly by Gavi, the international vaccination federation, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) and the WHO.
Chinese authorities say the country is currently conducting field trials of 16 vaccines, and has so far granted conditional approval to one of its lines – Sinopharm, although it has begun supplying the gun in many countries, including Pakistan.
Recently, more than 80 people have been arrested in China in an effort to combat the smuggling of counterfeit vaccines filled with salt water. Some counterfeit vaccines were reportedly being exported to African countries.
China’s announcement of supply of vaccines on COVAX has come as India has started providing jabs in many countries.
Beijing has announced it will offer three lakh vaccines to Sri Lanka after New Delhi sent five lakhs to Colombo. China has also exported its vaccine products to Nepal, Maldives and Brazil, which have already received a large amount of exports from India.
South Africa has received one million doses of the Covishield vaccine produced by the Serum Institute of India in Pune while India is pushing for its global drug defense talks, which puts it in direct competition with China’s Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post. (SCMP) reported Wednesday.
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa has announced that his country is expecting another 500,000 more orders from India by the end of the month.
Lawrence Gostin who is the director of the O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law which is at Georgetown University, told the SCMP that India, especially the Serum Institute, is likely to be the world’s most widely distributed drug, and that is also especially for low-income middle-income countries.
Gostin said India and China had been living in a political struggle for many years now, and the conflict was intense.
He said China has a long history of seeking political, trade or international profits through its various programs. “For example, China has used the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) for its economic and military benefits. China is using its policies to achieve the same geostrategic benefits, ”said Gostin.
However, “India has no history of seeking special benefits for its health care,” he said.
“India has long been regarded as a partner in helping to ensure that medicines and vaccines are less expensive in low-income countries. I expect that to continue, ”said Post.
Known as the ‘world pharmacy’, India produces 60 percent of the world’s vaccines.