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Chinese vaccines key to world's fight against COVID-19

Issuing time:2021-07-23 17:13Author:ZHANG ZHIHAOSource:China DailyLink:https://www.chinadaily.com.cn/a/202107/12/WS60eb845aa310efa1bd661189.html

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An airfreight worker unwraps a container of China's Sinovac vaccines at the Oscar Arnulfo Romero International Airport in San Luis Talpa, El Salvador, on Wednesday. [Photo/Agencies]

As of Friday, China has provided 500 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines and concentrates used for production to more than 100 countries and international organizations, accounting for one-sixth of global COVID-19 vaccine production, a Foreign Ministry official said.

Guo Xuejun, deputy director of the ministry's Department of International Economic Affairs, told Xinhua News Agency late Friday that China opposes vaccine nationalism and has actively supported other developing countries in their vaccine production and rollout.

These countries include the United Arab Emirates, Indonesia, Malaysia, Egypt, Brazil, Turkey, Pakistan and Mexico, with a total production capacity of over 200 million doses, he said.

Of the 140 countries involved in the Belt and Road Initiative, 84 proposed importing Chinese vaccines in the first half of this year, Guo said, adding that China has proactively responded to all these countries' demands and promptly provided vaccines.

"Our next step will be continuing to enhance our vaccine cooperation with various parties, further improve the accessibility and affordability of vaccines in developing countries, and make greater contributions to fighting the pandemic and promoting economic recovery," Guo said.

CoronaVac, the COVID-19 vaccine developed by China's Sinovac Biotech, has been found to be 83.5 percent effective in protecting against symptomatic infection and has had no reported cases of severe adverse events, according to interim data from phase three clinical trials in Turkey published in the journal The Lancet on Thursday.

The trials involved more than 10,000 participants and found the vaccine can induce a robust antibody response after two shots.

CoronaVac is an inactivated vaccine that uses a killed version of the whole virus to induce an immune response. It can be stored at 2 to 8 degrees Celsius and has been approved for emergency use by 22 countries, including Thailand, Brazil, Uruguay and Ukraine. Last month, the World Health Organization also validated the vaccine for emergency use.

"One of the advantages of CoronaVac is that it does not need to be frozen, making it easier to transport and distribute. This could be particularly important for global distribution, as some countries may struggle to store large amounts of vaccine at very low temperatures," said Murat Akova, lead author of the Lancet study and a professor at Hacettepe University Faculty of Medicine in Ankara, Turkey.

The interim study examined 10,029 participants aged 18 to 59 from Turkey who either received two doses of the vaccine or a placebo between Sept 14 and Jan 5. It found that the efficacy of the vaccine was 83.5 percent after two doses, and was 100 percent effective in preventing moderate and severe cases.

However, the team also acknowledged that although the vaccine can induce an antibody response in 90 percent of recipients, the response decreased with increasing age of recipients. The study included a short follow-up period and a relatively young and low-risk population.

So more research is needed to confirm its efficacy over the long term, and it should be conducted with a more diverse group of participants. The vaccine's ability to protect against emerging variants of SARS-CoV-2 should also be examined, the study said.

As of Thursday, China's National Medical Products Administration said 22 COVID-19 vaccines had been approved for clinical trials in the country. Four vaccines have been granted conditional market approval and three have been authorized for emergency use in China.

Assistance welcomed

Since China began assisting other countries' COVID-19 inoculation efforts, heads of state and government of many nations have expressed appreciation for the help and some have even personally welcomed the delivery of the Chinese vaccines at the airport.

In February, Mozambican Prime Minister Carlos Agostinho do Rosario extended warm greetings to the Chinese government and people on behalf of Mozambique. He said that, in the joint fight against the pandemic, China has shown brotherly friendship with the Mozambican people, and he thanked the Chinese government and people for their support.

The same month, Peruvian Prime Minister Violeta Bermudez said her country was delighted to receive the Chinese vaccine, which will help the country fight the pandemic.

In March, Dominican Vice-President Raquel Pena welcomed the vaccines at the airport and expressed gratitude for China's support and assistance, saying the vaccine will certainly provide an important guarantee for an early victory against the pandemic in the Dominican Republic.

The vaccine provided by China has saved lives and written a chapter of cooperation between China and the international community in the fight against the pandemic, she said, adding that China has played a praiseworthy role in the global anti-pandemic effort.