Strengthening Vaccine Cooperation to Build a Great Wall Against COVID-19
Remarks by State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi of the People’s Republic of China at the First Meeting of the International Forum on COVID-19 Vaccine Cooperation
5 August 2021
The world today is still in the grip of the COVID pandemic. As the virus continues to mutate and wreak havoc, putting it under control remains our top priority. In the battle, vaccines are of vital importance. They should be distributed around the world fairly and equitably with no country and no one left behind. They should truly serve as people’s vaccines. This is essential for defeating the virus. It is also a matter of international justice.
In reality however, inequitable distribution and unbalanced vaccination remain prominent challenges. The immunization gap deserves high attention from the international community. To win this fight where humanity’s future is at stake, solidarity and cooperation is the only right choice. President Xi Jinping has elaborated on the Chinese government’s propositions and pointed the way forward for international vaccine cooperation. On that basis, let me share the following thoughts:
First, we must put life first and promote vaccine accessibility around the world. COVID-19 vaccination is the largest effort of this kind in human history. People’s life and health must always be our first priority, and they must not be preceded by economic, political or other interests. Vaccines are first and foremost a global public good. We must ensure they remain so and reject rising vaccine nationalism. They are to be used as weapon to save lives, not a means by any country for selfish gains, still less a tool for geopolitical rivalry.
Second, we must uphold justice and step up support to developing countries. Three deficits need to be addressed. Firstly, the production deficit. While ramping up total supply, producing countries should also support developing countries through technology transfer and joint production, and safeguard the global supply chain of raw materials. Secondly, the distribution deficit. Vaccines should be shared with greater intensity and speed to make them accessible and affordable for developing countries as quickly as possible, especially the least developed countries. Thirdly, the cooperation deficit. This requires greater solidarity and sense of responsibility, and full mobilization of governments, businesses and international organizations, so as to form synergy.
Third, we must practice multilateralism and make international cooperation more effective. Coronavirus vaccination is like a touchstone of true multilateralism. The COVAX Facility needs to function with greater efficiency and transparency to deliver vaccines in greater numbers and more quickly. The World Bank and other multilateral financial institutions need to provide quick and inclusive financial support for vaccine R&D, production and procurement. The World Trade Organization (WTO) needs to speed up discussions on IP waivers to reach early consensus. All countries should respect such recognition systems as the WHO Emergency Use Listing Procedure (EUL), and take a science-based and fair approach toward vaccine mutual recognition and regulatory policy coordination.
Fourth, we must strengthen coordination and build multi-tiered defense. While continuing to educate the public, strengthen their confidence and speed up vaccination, countries should continue to coordinate pharmaceutical and non-pharmaceutical interventions, targeted routine measures and emergency response, and pandemic control and socioeconomic development. In the meantime, joint response at the global level should be scaled up to minimize the risk of cross-border transmission.
At the 73rd World Health Assembly held in May last year, President Xi Jinping solemnly announced that Chinese vaccines will be made a global public good as China’s contribution to ensuring vaccine accessibility and affordability in developing countries. China is steadily delivering on this commitment.
China acted quickly to share with the world the whole genome sequencing of the coronavirus, which has helped other countries to rapidly start vaccine development.
China acted quickly to launch overseas phase-III clinical trials of inactivated vaccines, and has since then conducted R&D cooperation with more than 20 countries. To date, four Chinese vaccines have been approved for use in over 100 countries, and two of them have been included in the EUL and the COVAX procurement list. The safety and effectiveness of Chinese vaccines have gained authoritative recognition internationally. This is a joint achievement by China and other developing countries.
China acted quickly to provide vaccines to fellow developing countries in need. Although China’s vaccine production capacity has yet to reach a sizable scale and domestic demand for vaccination has been rising sharply, China has started supplying vaccines to countries with urgent need from as early as September 2020. China has donated, and is donating, vaccines to over 100 countries, and exporting vaccines to over 60 countries. The total number has exceeded 770 million doses, the largest in the world.
China acted quickly to work with other developing countries on vaccine production. The UAE, Egypt, Indonesia and Brazil have become the first country in their respective region to have COVID vaccine production capacity. Together, we have created another success story of developing countries seeking strength through solidarity. China has also provided vaccines to COVAX, UN peacekeepers and the International Olympic Committee. Most recently, China launched an Initiative for Belt and Road Partnership on COVID-19 Vaccines Cooperation. We welcome the participation of more countries.
I wish to underscore that in carrying out vaccine cooperation, China has no political motive or economic calculation, and China does not attach any political strings. The only purpose of China is to make vaccines a global public good that truly serves as people’s vaccines and help the world defeat the pandemic at an early date. To this end, China will take further actions.
We will continue to steadily increase production capacity, provide more accessible and affordable vaccines to meet the needs of developing countries, and strive to provide two billion doses to the world in the course of this year.
We will continue to deepen cooperation with other developing countries on technology transfer and production capacity, and support the WTO in making an early decision on IP waiver. Working with other participants of this Forum, China has launched eight projects on vaccine production. With agreement on another four already signed, we hope to speed up the collaboration to implement them as soon as possible.
We will continue to support COVAX, endeavor to deliver over 100 million doses to it by the end of October, and make good use of the just announced US$100 million donation, so as to bring more benefits to other developing countries.
Let us pull together to build a great wall against COVID-19, protect the health of humanity, win the victory over the pandemic with solidarity and unity and build a global community of health for all.