China commits to international solidarity in vaccines

COVID-19 vaccine developed by China National Pharmaceutical Group.

On Oct. 9, China announced that it has joined about 160 other countries in a pact to ensure that COVID-19 vaccines and treatments will be distributed equitably around the world. The aim of the agreement is to provide two billion doses of vaccine to vulnerable populations and health care workers, especially in poor countries. 

The U.S. is among the few countries that have rejected taking part. The richest country in the world has snubbed the idea of joining forces with other countries to help stop a deadly virus from ravaging poor populations throughout the world. This right-wing orientation of the Trump administration is a byproduct of the capitalist system itself; essentially anything that weakens other countries helps to make the world more exploitable for profit. It was exposed in March when the Trump administration tried to secure the rights to vaccinations in development in Germany for the use of the U.S. only, forcing the German government to outspend U.S. offers to German companies.

STAT news described this competition in a Sept. 8 article: “The United States has ignited a vaccine nationalism wildfire, which is reaching conflagration status. Wealthy governments have locked down more than 4 billion doses of vaccines so far, with the United States topping the list with commitments for 800 million initial doses and options on another 1.6 billion doses; new bilateral purchase agreements are announced almost daily.” 

China vaccine available in Asia, Africa, Latin America

In total contrast, China’s joining the international agreement is only one part of their commitment to extend solidarity through COVID-19 vaccinations. Speaking to the World Health Assembly in May, President Xi Jinping said that vaccines should be for “global public good.” Since then, Xi and Premier Li Kequang have pledged repeatedly to make Chinese vaccines available to the Philippines, Cambodia, Burma, Thailand, Vietnam and Laos as well as Latin American and African countries. China is also currently in talks with the World Health Organization (WHO) for vaccines to be approved for emergency use authorizations. Obtaining that approval would cut red tape for member states’ use of the vaccines.

When the early cases of COVID-19 were discovered in Wuhan in late December 2019, China launched a “People’s War” against the virus that was nothing short of astonishing. The Chinese people, the People’s Liberation Army and many thousands of medical workers, scientists and volunteers succeeded in limiting the number of deaths to less than 5,000 people. At this point, some individual states in the U.S. have surpassed the number of fatalities in all of China — most recently that happened in the state of Michigan as a new surge of the disease spread through the Midwest. 

U.S. deaths 40 times that of China

The total number of deaths in the U.S., with 1/25th of the world population, is more than forty times that of China, where 1/5th of humanity lives.

Tens of thousands of people are participating in Phase 3 trials of China’s vaccine candidates outside of China, and through emergency use authorizations in both the United Arab Emirates and in Bahrain, doses of the vaccine have been supplied to various categories of workers who are at high risk because of the nature of their jobs. In China itself, members of the People’s Liberation Army and workers who travel frequently have also been vaccinated. In all cases, those who have been vaccinated are being closely monitored, like the monitoring regimen of the Phase 3 trial itself. So far, there are no major setbacks and no side effects, and in mid-September, Guizhen Wu, an official with China’s Center for Disease Control and Prevention, said that a vaccine could be ready for general distribution in November.

Given China’s astounding success and given the very advanced state of development and trials of vaccines there, China’s firm commitment to international solidarity in the form of vaccinations is a significant step forward in the global fight against the coronavirus. In recent decades, China’s scientific community has emerged as one of the most developed in the world in many fields, including advanced medicine. Chinese scientists have experience with vaccines from previous viral outbreaks and that has positioned them to be in the forefront of efforts at developing vaccines and treatments. Of the dozen vaccines that are currently in Phase 3 trials, four were developed in China.

But the foundation of China’s leading role in the fight against this pandemic is not just the medical or scientific experience that they have amassed. Socialized planning set the stage for those to occur. The orientation of the Chinese Communist Party toward humanity and solidarity, combined with socialized planning are the hope of humanity in the fight against COVID-19.