China helps developing nations’ access to COVID-19 vaccines: Global Times editorial

Source: Global Times Published: 2020/12/14 21:03:37

A vaccine factory in China Photo: AFP

The US launched its Pfizer-developed novel coronavirus vaccine distribution on Monday, officially kicking off mass vaccination in the country. The UK started its vaccination a few days earlier, and Canada has also approved the use of Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine. However, the first batch of US vaccines has only 3 million doses. The US will only immunize 100 million people by February.  

At about the same time, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain approved the use of a Chinese vaccine, and many other developing countries are preparing to vaccinate their people with the Chinese-made vaccines. The US and China are taking the lead in relevant vaccine research and development, and in the process of actual vaccination.

In the West, Pfizer's vaccine has received more positive publicity. China does not have the domestic conditions for phase III clinical trials since its epidemic situation has been contained, so relevant trials can only be carried out in other countries. This increases the complexity of the process and also makes it easy to be questioned by unfriendly Western public opinion. It is hard to hide their hostility toward Chinese vaccines.

China joined the WHO-backed vaccine program COVAX in October. China's attention is not on "vaccine race," let alone so-called "vaccine diplomacy," but on the common interests of all humanity. As a populous country and the battleground for the anti-epidemic fight at the early stage, China's "view on vaccines" is healthy, and its commitment to making vaccines an international public good is being fulfilled.

In vaccine distribution, the US prioritizes itself, and then its main allies, then some developing countries. As the US didn't sign up to COVAX under the Trump administration's "America First" policy, it won't be soon before developing countries receive any doses from the US. In contrast, China's vaccine will make it possible for many developing countries to be among the first or early groups to get access to COVID-19 vaccines. 

China's vaccine adds a new option for many countries. This is significant for upholding justice and equity in this coronavirus fight. It can prevent the international price of vaccines from going too high and push Washington to get rid of the extreme selfishness of "America First" to the greatest extent.

In terms of safety, it is much more difficult for Chinese institutions to gather all three terms' clinical data overseas than what Pfizer has done within the US. Still, this work is going to wrap up. In large-scale clinical tests of China's vaccine, rare cases of serious side effects have been reported. China's vaccine has withstood the test of global applicability. Relevant Chinese institutions have kept a low profile, and this reflects their seriousness toward the reliability of vaccines.

The process of making Pfizer's vaccine to market is much shorter than the normal research procedure. It has used a new technology, and is an mRNA vaccine. Although it has been put into emergency use, its safety still needs to be further tested in multiple ways before it can be widely used. In a sense, all of the vaccinated are still being tested for the reliability of Pfizer's vaccine. What China promoted is mainly inactivated vaccine, which is a mature technology with a much lower overall risk.

For Chinese, the urgency of vaccination is much lower than that of the outside world. This makes China's process of vaccination relatively easier and less urgent. Chinese people not only can choose the type of vaccine products, but also whether to vaccinate or not. Our safety level will remain among the highest in the world in the following days.

In the past, Chinese people trusted vaccines developed by Western countries. But this time, when it comes to their confidence in vaccines, the situation is changing. The Chinese government's responsible attitude during the fight against COVID-19 has boosted the trust of many Chinese people's confidence in domestically developed vaccines. As a Chinese saying goes, a distant journey tests the strength of a horse. It is believed times will eventually tell a convincing answer.

Posted in: EDITORIAL

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