-GAVI Alliance praises Chinese Vaccines agreements
-Chinese companies to supply more than half a billion Vaccine doses to COVAX
Foreign Desk Report
GENEVA: The GAVI alliance said on Monday it had signed two advance purchase agreements with Chinese drugmakers Sinopharm and Sinovac to provide up to 550 million COVID-19 vaccines to the COVAX programme.
The new deals include up to 170 million doses of the Sinopharm shot and up to 380 million doses of the Sinovac vaccine, through to the middle of 2022, the statement said. Sinovac confirmed the agreement in a statement. “The agreements, which come at a time when the Delta variant is posing a rising risk to health systems, will begin to make 110 million doses immediately available to participants of the COVAX Facility, with options for additional doses,” GAVI said in a statement.
COVAX, which distributes vaccines to poorer countries, has struggled to meet its early commitments amid Indian export disruptions, forcing many countries to freeze their inoculation programmes in their early phases.
However, its latest supply forecast shows that the programme is on track to deliver more than 2 billion doses by early 2022.
Seth Berkley, who heads the Gavi alliance, one of the partners behind the Covax initiative to get jabs to poorer countries, hailed the agreement with Sinovac and Sinopharm for 110 million shots. “Thanks to this deal, and because these vaccines have already received WHO Emergency Use Listing, we can move to start supplying doses to countries immediately,” he said in a statement.
Covax has delivered more than 100 million jabs so far, well short of its aims after India halted exports of AstraZeneca vaccines produced by the Serum Institute of India to address its own domestic demands.
European countries were also facing a reckoning with UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson expected to announce further details of England’s plans to do away with most restrictions on July 19, and French President Emmanuel Macron set to address the nation on his ideas for weathering the onslaught from new variants.
The virus has killed more than four million people since first emerging in China in late 2019 and attempts to halt its spread have been hampered by its ability to mutate, with the fast-spreading Delta variant now the dominant strain in many parts of the world. Vaccines are still seen as the best way to allow economies to reopen while keeping the public safe, but many poorer nations are still lagging far behind their richer counterparts, tens of millions in Asian cities are now once again living in lockdown.
Another part of the world struggling to get jabs is Taiwan, with the island’s government accusing China of playing politics with public health. Two tech companies, Foxconn and Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company, have stepped in to break the impasse, saying they will each donate 5 million doses. “Me and my team feel the public expectations on the vaccines and we are relieved to give them an answer that relevant contracts have been signed,” Foxconn founder Terry Gou said.