Vaccines from China bolster fight against COVID

China Daily
According to the Dominican Republic's embassy in Beijing, millions of Dominicans have benefited from Chinese vaccines.
China Daily

A special ceremony to honor China, held recently in the Dominican Republic, marked the first time that the Caribbean nation's Senate has recognized a foreign government for bringing hope and light to the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.

Santiago Zorrilla, vice-president of the Senate, conferred a certificate of honor on then Chinese ambassador to the Dominican Republic Zhang Run at the ceremony on Feb 2 and said the country will always remember China's timely assistance in its darkest hour.

"I received two doses of Chinese vaccines, and so did my family members," Zorrilla told Xinhua News Agency, adding that China brought hope to the Dominican people and helped Dominicans return to normal as much as possible.

Lorraine Hernandez, who works at a health center in the country's capital, Santo Domingo, said she was thankful to China for providing vaccines that have helped to protect her family.

"The first vaccine that we – doctors and health personnel – received two years ago was the Chinese Sinovac," she said, emphasizing that Chinese vaccines played a key role in protecting medical personnel and curbing the spread of COVID-19 in the country.

According to the Dominican Republic's embassy in Beijing, millions of Dominicans have benefited from Chinese vaccines.

The embassy told China Daily that the country is thankful to the Chinese government and people for the fast and prompt authorization of the export permit for the more than 15.7 million doses of Sinovac's COVID-19 vaccines that were acquired for its national vaccination plan. It also received the donation by China of 50,000 doses produced by Sinopharm, together with protective medical gear and ventilators.

"When the world was shrouded in darkness by the pandemic, China stepped up and offered us help, demonstrating (the spirit of) solidarity and cooperation," Dominican Senator Aris Yvan Lorenzo said.

Lorenzo, who proposed the motion to honor China, said his proposal received unanimous support from senators of various parties in November.

As of June, more than 120 countries, including the Dominican Republic, and international organizations had received a total of 2.2 billion doses of vaccines from China through donations or purchases.

Since the outbreak of COVID-19, China has championed the equitable distribution of vaccines and played an active role in narrowing the vaccination gap, thus making crucial contributions to helping the world overcome the pandemic at an early date, experts said.

"Particularly in 2020 and 2021, when the original strain and the Delta variant went rampant globally, Chinese vaccines have helped to save numerous lives," said Yao Jinxiang, an assistant researcher at the China Institute of International Studies' Institute of Developing Countries.

Staff members unload vaccines donated by China at a Philippine Air Force base in Manila, the Philippines on Feb 28, 2021. [Photo/Xinhua]

Many countries' leaders even came to the airport for handover ceremonies when the shipments of Chinese vaccines arrived, and more than 50 heads of state or government have taken the lead in getting inoculated with Chinese vaccines, according to the Foreign Ministry.

In January 2021, Chilean President Sebastian Pinera welcomed the arrival of nearly 2 million doses of Sinovac vaccines at Arturo Merino Benitez International Airport in the capital, Santiago, when the South American country was preparing for a mass vaccination campaign.

"Today is a day of joy, excitement and hope," Pinera said after the aircraft landed. He later received the first dose of the Sinovac vaccine along with those age 71 and older.

"China's efforts have played a key role in addressing the global shortage of COVID-19 vaccines and added confidence and strength to the fight against the virus in developing regions," Tian Huifang, a senior research fellow at the Institute of World Economics and Politics at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, wrote in an opinion piece published on the China Global Television Network's website.

In 2020, President Xi Jinping proposed at the opening of the 73rd World Health Assembly that COVID-19 vaccine development and deployment in China, when available, would be made a global public good.

"This will be China's contribution to ensuring vaccine accessibility and affordability in developing countries," he said at the virtual event.

When addressing the opening ceremony of the Boao Forum for Asia Annual Conference 2022 in April, Xi declared that China would donate another 600 million vaccine doses to Africa and 150 million doses to ASEAN member countries.

Yao, of the CIIS, said, "China is honoring its commitments with concrete actions, because we believe that no country can stay unaffected in the face of the pandemic, and only when an overall anti-pandemic protective system across the world is established can we truly walk away from it."

Allawi Ssemanda, a research fellow with the Development Watch Center, a think tank based in Kampala, the capital of Uganda, said that when some developed countries practiced vaccine nationalism, which resulted in the hoarding of much-needed vaccines at the height of the pandemic, China stood shoulder to shoulder with developing countries, especially in Africa.

China has been working to ensure that many people are vaccinated against COVID-19, by donating billions of vaccine doses to African countries, he said in an article published on the New Vision website.

As of August, China had provided 189 million doses of vaccines to 27 African countries.

In addition to vaccine deliveries, China was also among the first to support intellectual property rights exemptions for vaccine research and development and has taken the lead in carrying out joint production with a dozen countries, including the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Indonesia and Brazil, with an annual production capacity of 1 billion doses.

Speaking at the launch ceremony of a joint China-UAE project to initiate the first COVID-19 vaccine production line in the UAE, the country's Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan said that the two countries' partnership has set "an example to be emulated for collaboration between friendly nations in times of crisis".

The top diplomat emphasized that the dividends of this significant project will be reaped not only by the UAE and China, but by the entire world.

Yao, of the CIIS, said, "China is building a global community of health for all and upholding true multilateralism through efforts in realizing the local production of vaccines in other countries."

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