Beijing, Aug 6 (EFE).- China will strive to provide the world with a total of 2 billion doses of its Covid-19 vaccines this year, President Xi Jinping has said.
At the first meeting of the International Forum on Covid-19 Vaccine Cooperation, Xi said that Beijing will also donate $100 million to the COVAX global vaccination program, established by the World Health Organization (WHO), state-run agency Xinhua reported late Thursday.
This $100 million will be used mainly to distribute vaccines in developing countries, Xi said in a written message to the forum.
“I hope this forum will promote the accessibility and fair distribution of vaccines around the world, strengthen solidarity and cooperation in developing countries, and make new contributions for an early victory against the pandemic,” Xi said.
China has so far provided a total of 700 million doses of its vaccines to more than 100 countries, according to the Chinese foreign ministry.
When asked last week whether the country was practicing “vaccine diplomacy” for political gain or international influence, foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said that the vaccine is “a weapon to defeat the epidemic, not a tool for political gain, still less an excuse to attack and discredit other countries.”
“China has done its best to provide more than 700 million doses of vaccines to the world, especially developing countries (…) China’s actions have delivered much-needed help to countries and helped more than 100 countries save lives and fight the epidemic with no political strings attached (…) Those who accuse and discredit China should first ask themselves what they have done for the world,” Zhao added.
In July, the COVAX program and the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization reached an agreement with Chinese manufacturers Sinopharm and Sinovac to distribute 110 million vaccine doses worldwide.
Sinopharm will initially provide 60 million doses and Sinovac 50 million under the agreement reached a few weeks after the WHO included both Chinese vaccines on its list for emergency use, thereby allowing their participation in the COVAX program.
The doses were to be supplied between July and October and the agreement includes the possibility of another 440 million additional doses in the last quarter of 2021 and the first half of 2022.
The COVAX program aims to distribute about 2 billion doses this year, of which 1.8 billion will be delivered to low- and middle-income countries, enough to vaccinate at-risk groups around the world including healthcare workers, the elderly and those with chronic medical conditions. EFE