Quality Chinese vaccines keep nation's promise

2021-03-08 12:04:01

Employees of Sinovac Life Sciences process CoronaVac vaccine vials on Feb 24. As of Feb 23, about 97 countries and regions have administered more than 208 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines. [Photo by Chen Xiaogen/for China Daily] Domestic pharma companies work overtime to meet soaring demand at home and abroad During this year's Feb 11-17 Spring Festival holiday-the most important annual cultural event for Chinese-more than 1,200 employees of Sinovac Life Sciences, a pharmaceutical company based in Beijing, did something unprecedented. Unlike hundreds of millions of fellow citizens who tried to celebrate the holiday in innovative ways this year due to restrictions relating to the COVID-19 pandemic, Sinovac staff members sacrificed festivities and continued working. That enabled Sinovac to function round the clock and produce hundreds of thousands of doses of CoronaVac vaccine, an inactivated COVID-19 vaccine. The company's plants operated at full capacity to meet the soaring demand at home and abroad. As of March 3, COVID-19 has spread to more than 223 countries and regions, with about 114.43 million confirmed cases, and more than 2.54 million casualties, according to the World Health Organization. Those figures also underscored the widening immunity-development gap between the world's high-income countries and those underprivileged, which has resulted in a global vaccine accessibility inequity, adding uncertainties to hopes that life could return to normal through vaccinations. About 97 countries and regions have administered more than 208 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines as of Feb 23. Richer countries such as the United States took leading places in terms of population fully or partially vaccinated, according to Our World in Data, an online research provider affiliated with the Oxford Martin Programme on Global Development. To bring the pandemic to an end, the world's population needs to become immune to the novel coronavirus-SARS-CoV-2-through vaccinations. China has been unrelenting in its efforts to strengthen the global virus fight. For instance, it has invested time, energy and big money on vaccine development and production, and boosted vaccine exports to countries in dire need. China has also championed the cause of making COVID-19 vaccines a global public good-something that Premier Li Keqiang underscored in the Government Work Report delivered at the fourth session of the 13th National People's Congress on Friday. The report said: "We upheld multilateralism and endeavored to build a human community with a shared future. We supported global cooperation on combating COVID-19 and called for building a global health community. China thus made important contributions to advancing global peace and development." "Important" here is borne out by hard evidence. Guo Weimin, spokesperson for the fourth session of the 13th National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, the country's top political advisory body, said on Wednesday that as of Feb 28, China has offered COVID-19 vaccine assistance to 69 countries and two international organizations, and exported vaccines to 28 countries. Guo also said these numbers are growing and it is "very narrow-minded" to perceive China's action of providing COVID-19 vaccines and related assistance to other countries as a tool for gaining geopolitical influence. China has pledged to provide vaccines as a global public good, and encourages Chinese companies to collaborate with other countries when developing and producing vaccines, he said.