China It hopes to increase production of its coronavirus vaccines to 2 billion doses this year and 4 billion by 2022, an ambitious plan with which Beijing aims to become the major distributor of the drug in developing countries.
As the president of the China Vaccine Industry Association, Feng Duojia, recently told the local press, these 4,000 million doses will cover up to 40% of global demand.
Meanwhile, China has already distributed doses of its vaccines to 22 developing countries and provided assistance to 53, a figure that will continue to rise as the Asian giant reaches more agreements with African nations, according to data from the Chinese Foreign Ministry.
Only the Chinese firm Sinopharm has already distributed 43 million doses of its vaccine, of which 34 million have been administered in the Asian country. There, the vaccination campaign is reduced, for the moment, to inoculating groups considered to be at high risk of contracting covid, according to the state channel CCTV.
With a view abroad, the vaccines developed by Sinopharm and the Chinese Sinovac and CanSino are being used in Africa, Southeast Asia (Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Indonesia, the Philippines, Malaysia and Myanmar) and Latin America, while in Europe they have only arrived in Serbia – an ally of Beijing – and Hungary.
Chile already received two shipments of 2 million vaccines from Sinovac in January, and will receive another two shipments this week. Photo: AFP
Arrival in Latin America
The immense Chinese production capacity and its speed in distributing vaccines have seduced Latin America, where more than a dozen countries have already received or are awaiting their first doses.
In Uruguay – which has not yet started the vaccination – 192,000 doses of Sinovac are expected to arrive this Thursday, to which we must add another million and a half that will be available from March 15, President Luis Lacalle Pou reported on Monday .
Meanwhile, in Mexico, 200,000 vaccines from that firm are already available, which will be applied in their entirety in the municipality of Ecatepec.
In the same line, Chile expects for this week the arrival of two new shipments from the same laboratory, with more than two million doses each, as well as the Dominican Republic, which will receive 768,000 doses.
Countries such as Brazil or Peru also administer Chinese vaccines, while others like Colombia have just received a second batch -192,000 doses of Sinovac- and Bolivia awaits the arrival of half a million Sinopharm, a drug that has also just been authorized in Argentina, which will receive this week a million doses.
In both cases they are “inactivated” vaccines, which means that they carry a genetically altered version of the virus that prevents it from reproducing and developing the disease, but which generates an immune response in the body.
A Hong Kong police officer leaves a vaccination center after receiving a dose of Sinovac’s coronavirus vaccine. Photo: EFE
The “vaccine diplomacy”
On the sidelines, China has also delivered 10 million doses of its vaccines to the mechanism Covax, which the World Health Organization (WHO) promotes to prevent the pandemic from continuing and more people continue to die from the coronavirus.
“Some 27 countries, most of them developing, have shown interest in importing Chinese covid vaccines. Some have already received shipments. In total, China is providing aid to 53 developing countries and will continue to do so to the best of its ability to help. to the international community to overcome the crisis, “said Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin.
The official Chinese press, meanwhile, did not hesitate to show their chest: “Chinese vaccines have become a reliable source for many countries to fight the pandemic. China is keeping its word to make vaccines a common public good. that it be distributed fairly and equitably, “state agency Xinhua said in an editorial on Tuesday.
However, the arrival of Chinese vaccines has already caused some clash in the diplomatic arena after some European leaders criticized the Beijing government on account of this campaign.
French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said last week that China has launched “vaccine diplomacy” to increase their influence, especially in African countries, and warned that “taking photos of vaccines in airports does not mean having a vaccination policy.”
And the president of Germany, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, pointed out that the pandemic has become a “geopolitical moment” where some countries – referring to Russia and China – are distributing doses to other countries with political objectives, something that could have ” huge consequences for our future. “
The Asian giant, for its part, limited itself to criticizing developed countries for “stockpiling large quantities of vaccines”, in the words of its Foreign Minister, Wang Yi, who also rejected that Beijing has “geopolitical objectives” in mind. .
“China has never had geopolitical goals in the sale of its vaccines. It has never made calculations for economic profit and does not set political conditions,” said Wang.
By Jesús Centeno, EFE agency