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No Country Should Be Left Behind in the Fight Against COVID-19
by Spokesperson of Chinese Embassy in South Africa

On August 5, 2021, Chinese President Xi Jinping announced at the first meeting of the International Forum on COVID-19 Vaccine Cooperation that China will strive to provide two billion COVID-19 vaccine doses to the world throughout this year and offer $100 million to "The COVID-19 Vaccine Global Access Facility" (COVAX). This is undoubtedly good news for the international community, which is still mired in the vaccine gap, and another major step for China to fulfill its commitment to making vaccines a global public good. At the forum, Dr Naledi Pandor, Minister of International Relations and Cooperation for South Africa, expressed her appreciation for China's support for "The Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator" and the COVAX, and expressed the hope that all countries work together with China to contribute to this effort.

Are Chinese COVID-19 vaccines a global public good? The fact speaks for itself. As the largest developing country and a responsible member of the international community, China has always been committed to promoting a global community of health for all. Despite the enormous pressure of its own vaccination and prevention against imported cases, China has been making every effort to increase production capacity, taking the lead in developing vaccines as a global public good, and helping the world build a "Great Wall of Immunization" as soon as possible.

As of now, China has donated vaccines to more than 100 countries and exported vaccines to more than 60 countries, with a total amount exceeding 770 million doses, ranking first in the world. China has provided and is providing vaccines for more than 40 African countries and the African Union Commission, and is actively supporting Africa in improving its capacity for localized vaccine production. With China's assistance, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Indonesia, and Brazil have each become the first countries in their regions to be able to produce COVID-19 vaccines.

Are Chinese vaccines safe and effective? The data speaks for itself. Currently, four types of Chinese vaccines have been approved for use in more than 100 countries, and Sinopharm and Sinovac vaccines have been placed on the WHO's emergency use list and the COVAX procurement list, with their safety and effectiveness recognized by international authorities. The Lancet, a British medical journal, published an interim analysis of phase III clinical trial of the "CoronaVac" inactivated coronavirus vaccine developed by Sinovac in Turkey on July 8. The results showed that the efficacy rate of the vaccine reached 83.5% after two jabs, far higher than the WHO's target of 50%. At the just-concluded Tokyo Olympics, the vaccination rate of members of the Chinese sports delegation reached 99.6%, and none of the nearly 800 members infected during the games.

Professor Salim Abdool Karim, a well-known South African epidemiologist and former chairman of South Africa's Ministerial Advisory Committee on COVID-19, praised Sinovac's vaccine for its high quality, safety, and effectiveness. He further pointed out that China's vaccine storage and transportation conditions are 2 to 8 ℃, which is consistent with the existing vaccine storage and transportation conditions in many countries. There is no need to reconstruct the cold chain system and facilities to achieve safety, effectiveness, accessibility, and affordability.

Is China conducting "Vaccine Diplomacy"? International cooperation speaks for itself. The vaccine is a weapon to defeat the pandemic, not a tool for seeking political interests, and still less an excuse to attack or smear other countries. Since the beginning of this year, faced with the need for mass vaccination domestically, China has done its best to supply vaccines to the world, especially to developing countries, and helped more than 100 countries save lives and fight against the pandemic. As always, China has done all this without any political strings attached. If this is called "vaccine diplomacy", we welcome more countries on board so as to benefit the people of Africa and the world at large.

In the fight against COVID-19, China has always been practicing true multilateralism and seeking sincere solidarity with other countries. China was the first to share the whole genome sequencing of COVID-19 with the world, helping other countries quickly start test-kits and vaccines research and development. China took the lead in conducting phase III clinical trials of the inactivated vaccine overseas, and has since conducted research and development cooperation with more than 20 countries. Not long ago, China launched the Initiative for Belt and Road Partnership on COVID-19 Vaccines Cooperation, which has received positive responses from the BRI partner countries. South Africa and more countries are welcome to join the initiative.

China will continue to steadily increase its production capacity and provide more affordable Chinese vaccines for the world so as to meet the needs of other developing countries. At the same time, China will continue to deepen technology transfer and production capacity cooperation with developing countries, and support the World Trade Organization in making an early decision on the exemption of intellectual property rights for COVID-19 vaccines. China will continue to support the COVAX, and strive to deliver more than 100 million COVID-19 vaccine doses to the COVAX by the end of October. China will make good use of the $100 million it has just announced to donate to the COVAX to benefit more developing countries, African countries in particular.

The first meeting of the International Forum on COVID-19 Vaccine Cooperation has brought new opportunities for the equitable access to vaccines, injected new impetus into solidarity and cooperation among developing countries, and kindled new hope for the international community to get back on track. Last month, the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (SAHPRA) announced that it has authorized emergency use access in South Africa with conditions for the CoronaVac COVID-19 vaccine manufactured by Sinovac. The newly-appointed Health Minister Dr Joe Phaahla just said that the Sinovac vaccine is now also included in South Africa's COVID-19 vaccination program. The Chinese side will actively implement President Xi Jinping's solemn commitment, continue to do its best to assist South Africa in delivering Chinese vaccines to South Africa as soon as possible, and help the South African people fight and ultimately defeat COVID-19.

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