Two Chinese pharmaceutical companies will provide 110 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines immediately to participants of COVAX, a global vaccine-sharing project, the global Vaccine Alliance, Gavi, has announced.
"The addition of the Sinopharm and Sinovac vaccines further diversifies the Gavi-managed COVAX Facility portfolio, which now includes 11 vaccines and vaccine candidates," Gavi said in a statement.
The move, which comes after the two Chinese companies' vaccines were approved earlier this year by the World Health Organization for emergency use, will serve as a timely boost to the global fight against the COVID-19 pandemic as novel coronavirus variants, such as highly transmissible Delta, are posing increasing risks to people worldwide and putting renewed pressure on health systems around the world.
It will also help narrow the severe gaps in global vaccine supply, caused mainly by the rise of "vaccine nationalism" that has seen a handful of rich nations taking the lion's share of vaccines while many poor nations have had little or no access to vaccines. A potential total supply of 550 million vaccine doses by Sinopharm and Sinovac to COVAX by the first half of 2022 will certainly ensure more equitable distribution of vaccines among nations.
China, which has pledged to make its vaccines a global public good, has already supplied 500 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines and concentrates to more than 100 countries and international organizations, accounting for one-sixth of the current global COVID-19 vaccine output. Indeed, China has provided more doses to developing countries than any other country and has vaccine cooperation partners around the world.
The popularity of Chinese vaccines in so many countries stems from their tested and proven efficacy in trials in different countries. A study published recently in the top medical journal The Lancet said that two doses of the CoronaVac vaccine developed by Sinovac offer 83.5 percent protection against symptomatic COVID-19, and it also has some advantages for use by developing countries. "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 the lead author of the paper, Murat Akova from Hacettepe University Medical School in Turkey.
If more vaccines are provided to COVAX and other countries follow China's example and share their know-how it will help bring the pandemic under control as soon as possible.
With the COVID-19 pandemic still rampant around the globe, there is desperate need for concerted actions, especially to help developing countries.