China Officially Joins COVAX Vaccine Facility

China has signed an agreement with Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, to officially join the global vaccine initiative known as COVAX, led by the World Health Organization (WHO), Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hua Chunying said on Friday.

Hua said this is an important step China has taken to uphold the concept of a shared community of health for all and to honor its commitment to turn COVID-19 vaccines into a global public good.

Currently, the COVID-19 pandemic still poses a severe threat to the safety and health of people in all countries. China continues to focus on ensuring that developing countries have equal access to appropriate, safe and effective vaccines.

“To that end, we have solemnly pledged to make vaccines developed and deployed by China a global public good, which will be provided to developing countries as a priority,” Hua said.

China has maintained close communication with COVAX with a positive attitude towards joining it, Hua said, noting that even when China is leading the world with several vaccines in advanced stages of R&D and with ample production capacity, it still decided to join COVAX.

“We are taking this concrete step to ensure equitable distribution of vaccines, especially to developing countries, and hope more capable countries will also join and support COVAX. China will also strengthen vaccine cooperation with relevant countries through the COVAX network,” said the spokesperson.

China will continue to work together with COVAX partners and contribute its share to the global fight against the pandemic to safeguard all human beings’ safety and health, Hua said.

On the afternoon’s news briefing, the spokeswoman told the media that China will purchase COVID-19 vaccines for 1% of its population, or 15 million people, via the program, a move shows the country’s participation in the program and accommodates interests of other countries,

The first batch of vaccine available under the plan will be in short supply, so there would be less for other countries if China had secured doses for a large number of its 1.4 billion people, Hua explained.

Self-financing countries in COVAX scheme can request vaccine doses sufficient for 10-50% of their populations, according to the statement on GAVI’s website.

The latest data from WHO suggests that China has at least four experimental vaccines in final stages of clinical trials, and is also in talks with the WHO to have its domestically made vaccines assessed for international use.

Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hua Chunying’s Remarks on China Joining COVAX

2020/10/09

Q: China has officially joined COVAX. Do you have a comment?

A: On October 8, China and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, signed an agreement, officially joining COVAX. This is an important step China has taken to uphold the concept of a shared community of health for all and to honor its commitment to turn COVID-19 vaccines into a global public good.

Currently, the COVID-19 pandemic still poses a severe threat to the safety and health of people in all countries. China continues to focus on ensuring that developing countries have equal access to appropriate, safe and effective vaccines. To that end, we have solemnly pledged to make vaccines developed and deployed by China a global public good, which will be provided to developing countries as a priority. Therefore, China has maintained close communication with COVAX with a positive attitude towards joining it. Even when China is leading the world with several vaccines in advanced stages of R&D and with ample production capacity, it still decided to join COVAX. We are taking this concrete step to ensure equitable distribution of vaccines, especially to developing countries, and hope more capable countries will also join and support COVAX. China will also strengthen vaccine cooperation with relevant countries through the COVAX network.

China will continue to work together with COVAX partners and contribute its share to the global fight against the pandemic to safeguard all human beings’ safety and health.

WHO says ‘the more countries, the better’ as China joins COVAX scheme

The World Health Organization (WHO) has welcomed China’s decision to join a global COVID-19 vaccine project, which pools financial and scientific resources to ensure poor countries have fair and affordable access to life-saving vaccines. 

“The more countries that join, the better,” said Bruce Aylward, a WHO epidemiologist who led the China-WHO joint mission on COVID-19. 

China is the biggest economy to support COVAX after the U.S. and Russia turned their backs on the program. The scheme, which is coordinated by Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) and the WHO, aims to deliver two billion doses of a vaccine by the end of next year.

When asked by CGTN if China’s participation would speed up the timetable, Aylward said: “The more countries that participate in the COVAX facility, the greater the opportunity of being able to roll out vaccines as rapidly as possible, as early as possible to reduce the risk of severe COVID-19 disease globally.”

China has at least four vaccine candidates in the final stage of clinical trials.

Aylward said the details of China’s commitment, whether financial or scientific, are still being worked out and the WHO expects there to be specific details by the beginning of next week. 

Besides China, the WHO said South Korea and Nauru also joined the program, which brought the total number of countries and economies backing the project to 171. WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus on Friday called vaccines “one of the most powerful inventions in human history.”

A ‘global public good’ 

At a press briefing after the announcement, China Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hua Chunying called the decision to join “an important step China has taken to uphold the concept of a shared community of health for all and to honor its commitment to turn COVID-19 vaccines into a global public good.”

In May, China’s President Xi Jinping pledged to treat any vaccine developed in the country as a “global public good.”

Hua said the Chinese government advised the country’s research and development firms currently developing COVID-19 vaccines to “join COVAX and cooperate with the initiative.”

“As far as I know, many Chinese companies have expressed their willingness to join it. And experts from these companies and proponents of the initiative have been having talks on vaccine research and development, certification, and supervision,” she said. 

She also encouraged “more capable countries” to join the program, a vague reference to the U.S.. 

In September, the administration of U.S. President Donald Trump said it would not join the scheme because it did not want to be “constrained by multilateral organizations influenced by the corrupt World Health Organization and China.”  

Both China and the WHO have vehemently denied allegations of corruption during the pandemic. 

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