China Suggested to Set Aside Politics and Import Western Vaccines to Combat COVID

Chinese Vaccine - SINOVAC for Omicron

China must prioritize global health over political considerations by opening up to Western vaccines to combat Covid-19 and end the pandemic, according to Adar Poonawalla, CEO of the Serum Institute of India, the world’s largest vaccine manufacturer.

“They need to open themselves up to healthcare and vaccines from the West and set aside any political issues or things that are holding them back,” Poonawalla told at the World Economic Forum in Davos.

China recently experienced a sharp increase in Covid-19 cases and deaths following the abandonment of its strict zero-Covid policy, which involved rigorous lockdowns, extensive testing, and quarantine measures upon entry.

According to World Health Organization data, nearly 87% of China’s population has received full Covid vaccination, with 54% also receiving booster shots.

However, vaccines from Sinovac and Sinopharm, the main ones used in China, have shown lower effectiveness against the Omicron variant compared to mRNA vaccines like Pfizer-BioNTech’s, as indicated by several studies.

Omicron Outbreak in China (Photo: Getty Images)

Poonawalla acknowledged China’s rapid response capabilities demonstrated during the initial pandemic stages in 2020, including swift infrastructure development and precautionary measures.

He emphasized China’s hesitancy to import vaccines from highly effective sources such as the U.S. and India, stating, “I think they may have to really seriously look at doing that now, as a booster at least, and take vaccines which have proven, real-world data and efficacy.”

Poonawalla underscored the urgency of ending the pandemic globally, noting the significance for international travel and the well-being of Chinese nationals abroad.

“We really need to end the pandemic and infection in every country, because we all need to be safe,” Poonawalla said.

Reflecting on ongoing discussions with Chinese officials, Poonawalla expressed the Serum Institute’s willingness to supply vaccines to China, despite unsuccessful negotiations thus far.

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