China Extending Hands to WHO’s COVAX Initiative and Developing COVID-19 Vaccine

Today, October 9, 2020, China becomes the latest member of the COVID-19 Vaccine Global Access (COVAX) initiative co-led by the World Health Organization (WHO) and other private organizations. China joins hands with the existing 170 countries that have already pledged their support for the program, which aims at an equal and fair distribution of the COVID-19 vaccines across countries, once the final vaccine is approved. Meanwhile, the country also announces that it has developed vaccines and some of them are currently under the final stages of clinical tests.

COVAX, known as the global coordinated plan for fair vaccine distribution, is co-led by Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation (GAVI), the WHO, and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI). The global plan is primarily designed to prevent and avoid chaos in search of hoarding more vaccines by national governments and aims at lowering the costs of the drug. Besides that, the initiative focuses on giving first vaccination priority to most high-risk people and voluntary donations of vaccines to poorer countries. Meanwhile, some major economies including the United States (US) and Russia have not yet participated in the program.

China Joins COVAX and Developing Vaccines

On joining the global plan, Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said in a statement, “We are taking this concrete step to ensure equitable distribution of vaccines, especially to developing countries, and hope more capable countries will also join and support COVAX.” Although the statement has not provided detailed information on its support, China’s latest move seemed to reinforce president Xi Jinping’s promise of $2 billion in May to help deal with the pandemic over the next two years.

China was reportedly holding separate talks with the WHO about its potential COVID-19 vaccine development amid the international criticisms against Beijing’s handling of the pandemic. Hua said on Friday that the country has developed several COVID-19 vaccines and would prioritize supplying developing countries when vaccines are ready.

As per the governmental report, China is currently experimenting with four of its vaccines in the final stage of clinical tests; of which two are developed by state-backed China National Biotec Group (CNBG), and the other two vaccines are developed by Sinovac Biotech and CanSino Biologics.

COVAX’s Commitments and Objectives

Earlier, the chief executive of the GAVI vaccines alliance Seth Berkley stated that the global platform would effectively fight and end to the COVID-19 outbreak, which has taken over 1 million lives globally. Under the goal of “no one is safe unless everyone is safe,” COVAX aims to distribute the coronavirus vaccines according to the numbers of the populations and people suffered from the virus infection in a country.

WHO explained that the participants of COVAX agreed to finance the vaccine purchases from their national budgets, and partner with 92 poorer nations through voluntary donations to ensure vaccines are delivered as per Gavi’s COVAX Advance Market Commitment.

Moreover, the alliance also aims to procure and deliver 2 billion doses of the WHO’s approved vaccines by the end of 2021 by stressing “COVAX is the only truly global solution to the COVID-19 pandemic,” Berkley said. Last month, the European Union (EU) said that the member states could buy potential COVID-19 vaccines through COVAX, which was a positive note of the group led by the Gavi COVAX AMC that was launched in June 2020.