Can China Deliver the COVID-19 Vaccine as Promised?

October 15, 2020 14:33:45

China is currently conducting COVID-19 vaccine trials in a number of countries which include Argentina, Peru and the United Arab Emirates. While China’s four out of the current dozen global vaccine candidates undergoing clinical trials haven’t been proved to be safe or even effective, the country has promised to avail millions of vaccine doses to several countries, including those in which the trials are being conducted and a host of low income countries with which it shares cordial relationships.

As China makes those bold promises, questions remain regarding its capacity to supply all those vaccine doses, and even whether the international community through the World Health Organization and other entities will approve those vaccines for use. We explore some of those issues in this analysis below.

China’s Promises to Supply Vaccines

Over the past few months, China has announced that it will avail millions of COVID-19 vaccine doses to Burma, Cambodia, the Philippines, Vietnam, Thailand and Laos. China also has agreements to supply vaccines to the different countries around the world where its vaccines are being tested, and it has also promised supplies to several African countries.

Can it deliver on these promises? Officially, China says it can avail at least 600 million doses of coronavirus vaccines before the year ends, and it can provide a billion doses next year. It is a known fact that china’s population stands at 1.4 billion. The question is, will China deliver on its promise to avail vaccines to different countries and yet its capacity in the near future cannot even address the needs of its own population?

Will the World Accept Chinese Vaccines?

From the onset of the pandemic, China hasn’t done itself any favors in the way it kept shifting goal posts on the way it reports its caseload. This lack of transparency has even been blamed in some quarters for the global scale of the pandemic, a pandemic which would probably been contained at epidemic level if China had been more forthcoming in revealing the extent of the problem towards the end of last year and early this year.

This may create some problems regarding the acceptability of the vaccines being developed by Chinese firms. Additionally, none of the Chinese vaccine trials are being overseen by CEPI (Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations), and it may be difficult for those vaccines to get clearance for global use without the support of CEPI.

However, early this month, China joined COVAX, a global collaboration on access to Covid-19 vaccines, and this may make China to warm its way into getting WHO and other international bodies to approve its vaccines.

Are Vaccines China’s Latest Tool?

Concerns have also been raised regarding the possibility that China could use the vaccines it develops as a tool to gain political and economic leverage over the countries that receive those vaccines. Nothing is known about the discussions and agreements that China signs with those countries it promises coronavirus vaccine doses, and China being what it is, the concerns aren’t totally unfounded, analysts assert.

Experts say biomedical companies like 180 Life Sciences Corp. would find it extremely unfortunate if China used the COVID-19 vaccines as a weapon to fight its economic and political wars around the world.

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