The world is becoming dependent on China for vaccines, the outbreak of virulent virus in India is increasing its ability to meet supply agreements, even as the United States champions itself as a broad-reaching champion of biological access. Tries to bring it into position.
In recent weeks, leaders of some of the world’s most populous countries have called for more injections from China despite concerns about their effectiveness. Demand is expected to increase further as the World Health Organization expects, authorizing China’s Synovac Biotech and Sinopharm vaccines, allowing developing countries to access them via Kovacs in Asia, Africa and Latin America.
“China has become not only the largest exporter,” said Yanzhong Huang, a Chinese expert at the Council on Foreign Relations and senior partner in global health. “It has become the only option in many countries.”
China’s credibility as a vaccine supplier is increasing its geopolitical influence at a time when the United States and the European Union are gradually out of control in India, Brazil, and elsewhere as a global epidemic. Facing difficulties, the Indian crisis has reduced the supply of vaccines and prompted many countries to turn to China. Against this backdrop, the United States, with its national vaccination pushback for months, has come under intense criticism for stocking the vaccine at the expense of a global backlash.
President Joe Biden made it clear this week that the United States wants to start playing a more active role. on Wednesday, The United States supported a movement to grant vaccine patents Allowing other countries to manufacture them. He promises that the United States will become a “arsenal to fight COVID-19” globally, as outbreaks in other parts of the world produce dangerous variants that can prolong the crisis. The administration’s efforts so far have included plans to deliver 60 million doses of AstraZeneca injections and to increase the production of doses manufactured by Modern, Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson.
Meanwhile, countries from Uruguay to Senegal to Indonesia have few options to get away from Beijing, and China is taking the most advantage out of it.
According to Airfinity, a scientific information and analysis company, the country has already shipped approximately 240 million doses, more than all other countries, and has pledged to provide another 500 million. Formerly, 67 million doses were exported to about 100 countries until the devastating COVID-19 outbreak led to halting of most deliveries in recent weeks.
The WHO is weighing data on Chinese vaccines before a decision on authorization, which is expected in days or weeks. Access to the vaccine would boost the WHO-backed Kovacs effort, which relied heavily on the Serum Institute of India before the export crack.
Kovacs has shipped more than 50 million doses to 121 countries and territories, far short of its target and only a fifth of what the United States has done nationally. A new agreement with Modern has expanded Kovacs’ portfolio, but only a portion of the 500 million doses it promised will be available this year.
The WHO authorization of Chinese vaccines can make an immediate difference to governments that wait for that seal of approval before giving it to citizens. For example, Sri Lanka has so far used less than 1 percent of its 600,000 cyanopharma injections into Chinese foreign workers.
However, some experts are concerned about the potential public health impact of widespread deployment of Chinese vaccines that have shown lower efficacy rates than those made by Pfizer and Modern. And Chinese vaccines have already been disrupted due to a lack of test data and a preference for vaccines from Western companies.
“WHO’s approval of Chinese vaccines will, in the medium term, help strengthen Chinese power and authority within the region,” said Nicholas Thomas, Associate Professor at the City University of Hong Kong and editor of several books on health. Global and Foreign Policy. . “However, the low efficacy rate of Chinese vaccines means that this is an easily debated situation if Western countries can increase their supply.”
Enjoy the moment
This is all the more reason for China to seize this time. Foreign Minister Wang Yi promised last week that China would provide vaccines to countries dependent on India during a call with their counterparts in South Asian countries.
On the same day, China’s Defense Minister Wei Feng entered into an agreement to increase military cooperation with Bangladesh. Subsequently, the country approved the emergency use of Sinopharma injections when the 15 million doses paid by the Serum Institute did not arrive.
Last month, Chinese President Xi Jinping vowed to oppose “vaccine nationalism” in a call with Indonesian leader Joko Widodo, whose government gave the green light to Sinoparm shortly after that. Indonesia also secured more than 15 million synovac injections.
“At first glance, India’s export ban has made Indonesia dependent on vaccine supplies from China,” said Pandu Ryono, an epidemiologist at the University of Indonesia.
Other countries have played well with China in geopolitical disputes.
The Philippines was denied its largest vaccine order by delaying India’s exports when it was debating a territorial dispute with China. President Rodrigo Duterte reprimanded his top diplomat this week for a controversial tweet in which he condemned Beijing over the dispute, as his government negotiated with Sinovac with monthly deliveries of up to four million.
“China remains our donor,” Duterte said. “Just because we have a conflict with China does not mean that we should be rude and abusive.”
Some countries that rely on Chinese vaccines, such as Chile, have moved in relatively quickly. However, concerns remain about its potential: a study by the Chilean government in April found the Synacov vaccine to be 67 percent effective in preventing symptomatic COVID-19 infection and protecting 80 percent of deaths. Meanwhile, Pfizer’s mRNA injection, meanwhile, was found to be 92 percent effective in preventing symptomatic COVID-19 infections and 99 percent effective in preventing deaths, although it is more difficult to transport and stored at ultra-low temperatures should go.
According to a Foreign Ministry official in New Delhi, India is confident that it will be able to increase supplies again in a few months. The government said that China is trying to take advantage of India’s crisis, but is confident that other countries will understand its situation.
“The shipment is being reused for domestic purposes,” said Indian Foreign Ministry spokesman Arindam Bagchi. “We have already said that our external supply will be made keeping in mind our national requirements.”
Meanwhile, many common people from Pakistan to Brazil have expressed their lack of confidence in Chinese vaccines. In some regions of Africa, which is using injections from the United States, India, Russia and China, there are doubts about vaccines from various parts of the developed world.
“We have been told that these vaccines are meant to get rid of Africans, so I will now monitor and inspect those who have been vaccinated,” said Passmore Mwanza, a 29-year-old activist in Zimbabwe. “I don’t want to be part of an experiment with an outcome that I don’t know.”
In collaboration with Eris Aditya, Bibhudatta Pradhan, Altaf Najafizada, Arun Devnath, Godfrey Marwanika, Katrina Hoije and John Laurman.