H.E. Mr. Wang Xuefeng*
On the evening of 5th August, 2021, the First Meeting of the International Forum on COVID-19 Vaccine Cooperation hosted by China was successfully held via video link under the theme of “strengthening international cooperation on vaccines, promoting fair and equitable distribution of vaccines around the world”. Representatives from developing countries, international organizations such as the United Nations and World Health Organization, and Chinese and foreign vaccine manufacturers reached important consensus on international vaccine cooperation at the meeting and adopted an eight-point joint statement.
In his written message to the meeting, Chinese President Xi Jinping announced that China will strive to provide 2 billion COVID-19 vaccine doses to the world throughout this year and offer 100 million U.S. dollars to COVAX for the distribution of vaccines to developing countries. This is another major move for China to honor its commitment of making vaccines a global public good, and also allow it to make new contribution to the global cooperation against COVID-19.
Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi, host of the meeting, pointed out that as the novel coronavirus is still going viral around the world, vaccines matter so much to the humans’ fight against the virus that they should be distributed worldwide fairly and reasonably, without a country or a person not granted access to them. Vaccines should be made vaccines of the people in the real sense. However, globally, there are still such outstanding problems as insufficient vaccine production capacity, inequitable distribution, and uneven vaccination, especially in developing countries. Under such circumstances, the international community must offer more assistance to developing countries. The first is to address the “production capacity deficit” by expanding supply and actively helping developing countries through technology transfer and cooperative production. The second is to address the “distribution deficit” by achieving universal accessibility and affordability of vaccines in developing countries. The third is to address the “cooperation deficit” by bringing the role of governments, enterprises and international organizations into full play and pooling their efforts in the spirit and with the responsibility of sticking together in times of difficulty.
Last May, Chinese President Xi Jinping made a solemn commitment at the 73rd World Health Assembly that China would make vaccines a global public good, and make its contribution to vaccine accessibility and affordability in developing countries. We are true in word and resolute in deed. China has taken the lead in sharing the full-length genomic sequence of COVID-19 with the world, conducting phase III clinical trials of inactivated COVID-19 vaccines overseas, providing vaccines to developing countries in need, and cooperating with developing countries in vaccine production. China has donated and is donating vaccines to more than 100 countries, and has exported more than 770 million doses of vaccines to over 60 countries, the most of any nation in the world. Under our combined efforts, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Egypt, Indonesia, and Brazil have become the first ones in their respective regions to have the production capacity of COVID-19 vaccines, which charted a new chapter of unity and self-reliance among developing countries. China has also actively provided vaccines to COVAX, UN peacekeepers and the International Olympic Committee. China has launched the Initiative for Belt and Road Partnership on COVID-19 Vaccines Cooperation days ago, and welcomes more countries to join the initiative.
China has no political purpose in or does not seek any economic interests from its international cooperation in vaccines. And, there have never been any political conditions attached to such cooperation. Our only goal is to make vaccines a global public good and those for the people of the world in the real sense. We will continue to steadily increase our production capacity, provide more accessible and affordable Chinese vaccines to the world, and meet the needs of developing countries. We will continue to deepen technology transfer and production capacity cooperation with developing countries, support the WTO in making an early decision on waiving intellectual property rights on COVID-19 vaccines, and support COVAX by delivering the first batch of more than 100 million doses of vaccines to the facility before the end of October and making good use of the 100 million U.S. dollar-donation just announced to the facility, so as to benefit more developing countries.
Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, China and Botswana has been combating the virus shoulder to shoulder. China has fully shared its anti-pandemic experience with and donated much-needed medical supplies including 200,000 doses of Sinovac vaccines to Botswana, and helped Botswana procure another 200,000 doses from China. Recently, the Chinese Embassy donated 8 oxygen concentrators and 20 ventilators to the Ministry of Health and Wellness. A batch of personal protective equipment (PPE), as part of a US$500,000 project by China under the framework of the South-South Cooperation Assistance Fund, has also been handed over to the Ministry. Amid the current third wave of COVID-19, the Botswana Government has engaged the Chinese side for the provision of a new batch of vaccines to save more lives. The Chinese Embassy is ready to work with the Botswana side to facilitate the early arrival of the new batch and jointly promote international cooperation in vaccines to build a community of shared health for all.
*Chinese Ambassador to Botswana