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China formally joins WHO led COVAX initiative on COVID-19 vaccine

Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hua Chunying announced this in a statement issued on Friday. The statement did not give details on the level of support Beijing will provide to the initiative.

The COVAX facility, led by the World Health Organization (WHO), aims to deliver at least 2 billion doses of vaccines by the end of 2021. The WHO had said it had been negotiating with China for its participation in the initiative, with Russia and the United States so far choosing not to join.

More than 150 countries have joined the WHO led initiative to develop, produce, and fairly distribute an effective COVID-19 vaccine. China is the biggest economy so far to join COVAX which aims to create a 15 billion dollars corpus for delivering at least 2 billion doses of vaccines by the end of 2021. 

Hua also said in Friday’s statement that China has ample COVID-19 vaccine production capacity and it will be provided to developing countries as a priority when vaccines are ready. The statement also said that China hopes more capable countries will also join and support COVAX.

A report issued by the WHO in September has given an idea of how the facility will distribute vaccine doses, when they become available. The WHO estimates that an allocation of doses equal to 20% of a country’s population should be enough to vaccinate people at the highest priority. In the initial phases, when doses are expected to be in short supply, countries will receive doses in tranches until they have enough to vaccinate 3% of their populations.

Anshuman Mishra/ Beijing 

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