China has announced a plan to provide 10 million coronavirus vaccine doses to developing countries through the global COVAX initiative.
China’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said the country is responding to a request from the World Health Organization (WHO), as developing countries struggle to get vaccines amid reports of shortages predicted to run through March.
COVAX, coordinated by WHO, seeks to ensure low and middle-income countries have enough coronavirus vaccines, as wealthy nations have already purchased a great deal of upcoming doses.
“We hope countries in international society with the capability will swing into action, support COVAX through practical actions, support the work of the World Health Organization, assist developing countries in obtaining vaccines in a timely manner and contribute to international societies conquering the pandemic at an early date,” Wang said in a press briefing.
The Asian country has already shipped some amounts of domestically developed vaccines to a few developing countries, and WHO is in the process of approving Chinese vaccines for emergency use.
China has stated it is anxious to dismiss criticisms of missteps in handling COVID-19 and as a result, a team of WHO experts are currently in Wuhan to collect data in a search for clues about the virus’s origins and how it spread around the world.
The Chinese government has also called the virus a mutual challenge facing humanity and even questioned its origin.
Earlier, as the pandemic spread around the world, it sent medical teams and supplies to affected countries and signed agreements with developing nations such as Indonesia and the Philippines to provide priority access to one of its vaccine candidates.
While Chinese vaccines are considered a cheaper and possibly more abundant alternative, others vaccine manufacturers are also committing to the COVAX initiative. Last month, Pfizer announced it will be supplying up to 40 million doses of its COVID-19 vaccine this year through COVAX.
Meanwhile, Chinese authorities also announced the arrest of more than 80 suspected members of a criminal group that was manufacturing and selling fake COVID-19 vaccines, including to other countries
According to reports, the group led by a suspect with the surname Kong, was producing a simple saline solution and presenting it for sale as a vaccine. The group has been active since last September and the false jabs have been sold in China and abroad. Authorities reported that more than 3,000 fake vaccines were seized.
Addressing the issue at the press conference, Foreign Ministry spokesman, Wang Wenbin said that “China has already reported the situation to the relevant countries.
“The Chinese government highly values vaccine safety and will continue to take efforts to strictly prosecute any counterfeits, fake sales and illegal business, and other related actions that involve vaccines.
“At the same time, China will strengthen our law enforcement cooperation with the relevant countries, to earnestly prevent the spread of this type of illegal and criminal action.”
The Chinese government has also reformed vaccine safety regulations and increased criminal penalties for those caught making counterfeits in response to recent scandals.