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China joins WHO-backed COVID vaccine program rejected by Trump

China Joins WHO-Backed Covid-19 Vaccine Program Rejected By Trump

BEIJING – China has joined a global Covid-19 vaccine distribution program backed by the World Health Organization (WHO), it said on Friday, giving a significant boost to a rejected initiative by US President Donald Trump.
Beijing’s latest attempt to join the global fight against the coronavirus follows criticism over its handling of the pandemic, which has contributed to a growing unfavourable view of China in advanced countries, a recent survey showed.
“We are taking this concrete step to ensure equitable distribution of vaccines, especially in developing countries, and hope that more capable countries will also join and support COVAX,” Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said in a statement.
The statement does not detail Beijing’s support for the COVAX program, which aims to deliver at least 2 billion doses of vaccine by the end of 2021.
In May, President Xi Jinping pledged $ 2 billion over the next two years to fight the pandemic that has killed more than one million people.
No less than 171 countries have joined the program to support equitable access to Covid-19 vaccines for rich and emerging countries. Participants include about 76 wealthy and self-funded, but neither the United States nor Russia.
COVAX is co-led by the GAVI Vaccine Alliance, WHO and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI).
It is designed to discourage national governments from stockpiling Covid-19 vaccines and to focus on vaccinating those most at risk in each country.
But its prospects for success were bleak until recently, as some wealthy countries, including the United States, chose to sign their supply agreements.
“Vaccine deals are underway, and we are rapidly approaching our initial goal of raising funds to revive support for low-income countries,” GAVI chief executive Dr. Seth Berkley told Reuters in a statement.
“What seemed like an impossible challenge just a few months ago – ensuring every country, rich or poor, equitable and rapid access to Covid-19 vaccines – is now becoming a reality.
The move also means that China “will purchase vaccines through the facility for a portion of its population, just like with other countries,” a GAVI spokesperson said.
China has sufficient capacity to manufacture the Covid-19 vaccine and will prioritize developing countries when they are ready, the foreign ministry added.
China has at least four experimental vaccines in the final stages of clinical trials.
Two are under development by the state-backed China National Biotec Group (CNBG), and two by Sinovac Biotech and CanSino Biologics.
(Sahar News Monitoring Desk)

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