Turkey purchases 50m Sinovac doses as more countries show confidence in Chinese vaccines

By GT staff reporters Source: Global Times Published: 2020/12/15 12:55:49

China's Sinopharm tests vaccine distribution system for mass use

vaccine Photo:VCG

While Western media have been extensively covering American drug firm Pfizer's vaccine progress in the West, more countries in Asia, Europe and the Middle East expressed trust and confidence in Chinese COVID-19 vaccines. 

During a phone call with Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi on Monday, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said that Turkey believes Chinese COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective, and Turkey would make urgent purchases from China.

Earlier this month, Turkish Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said the country had signed a contract to buy 50 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine from Chinese company Sinovac. 

Turkey's decision to purchase Chinese COVID-19 vaccines reflects its trust in China, and China is ready to provide necessary assistance to Turkey, Wang said during the phone call.  

Cavusoglu congratulated China on its successful control of the epidemic and appreciated its achievements in vaccine research and development. 

Wang said that China and Turkey have conducted fruitful cooperation in medical supplies, sharing of anti-epidemic experience and Phase III clinical trials of the COVID-19 vaccines. 

Around 13,000 volunteers in Turkey participated in Sinovac's Phase III clinical trials, according to Reuters. 

Koca said the vaccine produced by the "inactivated method" is more reliable because "it is the best known method and its long-term consequences are well known." 

The more recently developed mRNA vaccines "worked well in the short term but we do not know what effect it will have in the medium and long term," Koca said in an interview with local media. 

The first batch of 20 million doses of Sinovac vaccines will be received in December and January. The second batch of 10 million doses will arrive in February. Turkey is open to procuring vaccines from other companies after February, Koca said, according to Anadolu Agency.

Tunc Akko?, Chairman of the Turkish Ayd?nl?k Newspaper, the oldest newspaper in Turkey, told the Global Times recently that a majority of Turkish people preferred Chinese vaccines over Pfizer's as the vaccines from China have been produced "in the same way as the vaccines made since our childhood." He said he and his family would like to receive the Chinese vaccine. 

The bad performance of the US in controlling the epidemic has also shaken Turkish people's trust in American vaccines, he said. 

Countries like Indonesia, Brazil and Chile have also announced their purchase of the Sinovac vaccine. Indonesia received its first shipment of 1.2 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine from China last week. 

China's other COVID-19 vaccines, developed by China National Biotec Group (CNBG) under the China National Pharmaceutical Group (Sinopharm), have been approved by the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain. 

Many countries also stepped out of political bias and increased their trust in Chinese vaccines.  In Europe, Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto said on Facebook on Friday that the country would seek emergency domestic approval of a Chinese COVID-19 vaccine rather than waiting for a review by the EU's European Medicines Agency. He said the safety of the vaccine is not a "political or ideological question, but a professional one."

CNBG's second-stage production lines are expected to be completed this month, and production capacity is estimated to reach 1 billion vaccines in 2021, CNBG announced. 

While gaining more and more international momentum, Chinese vaccines are also pushing for mass use domestically. 

Sinopharm Holdings, affiliated to Sinopharm Group, has started a large-scale maneuver across China to test its capacity and capability for its vaccine mass distribution system covering receiving orders, system scheduling, transporting to warehouse, sorting out batches, and landing to local vaccination sites. Sinopharm Holdings will be mainly in charge of the nationwide distribution of two inactivated vaccines.

Gu Yimin, General Manager of Logistics of Sinopharm Holdings, told the Global Times on Tuesday that they have adopted the highly digitalized cold chain vaccine distribution platform that enables tracking the quality status of the vaccine, critical steps in the trip, temperature control and trajectory in transit. 

Gu suggested that the share of vaccine distribution in each region is manly determined by proportion of local population during their rehearsal. 

Analysts said logistic practice should be strengthened in areas with sporadic COVID-19 outbreaks such as Northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region and Southwest China's Sichuan Province, areas that will possibly be the first to receive the vaccine. 

The company is equipped with hundreds of refrigerated trucks, and all cold-storage warehouses and refrigerated vehicles will be given priority for the national distribution of COVID-19 vaccines once they are approved for market, said Gu.

The whole-process monitoring data of each refrigerated truck can also be tracked through the specially designed digital platform, Gu said. The platform can intelligently design the cold-chain packaging scheme in advance according to the weather conditions of origin and destination, distance and other factors. Hundreds of cold chain warehouses worldwide for vaccine are already registered on the platform.

Newspaper headline: Turks welcome Chinese COVID-19 vaccine

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