KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 9 — China has officially signed an agreement to participate in COVAX, a global Covid-19 vaccine access plan co-led by the World Health Organization (WHO).
Al-Jazeera reported that China is the largest economy to back the international Covid-19 vaccine pool procurement mechanism, as the United States and Russia have yet to participate in COVAX.
The Trump administration said last month that the US would not participate in COVAX, with a White House spokesman quoted saying that the US would “not be constrained by multilateral organizations influenced by the corrupt World Health Organization and China”.
China’s decision to join COVAX, according to China’s Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying in a statement on Twitter today, was “an important step to uphold the concept of a shared community of health for all and to honour its commitment to turn Covid-19 vaccines into a global good”.
The Chinese government was quoted saying that developing countries would get priority to a coronavirus vaccine from China that may be available as early as next month.
“The COVID-19 pandemic still poses a severe threat to the safety and health of people in all countries,” she said. “China continues to focus on ensuring that developing countries have equal access to appropriate, safe and effective vaccines.”
COVAX — led by WHO; Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance; and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations — is a pool procurement mechanism, whereby higher income countries will finance the Covid-19 vaccines from their own national budgets, while 92 low- and middle-income countries will receive financial support to access the vaccines. COVAX aims to deliver two billion vaccine doses worldwide by the end of 2021.