Chinese COVID-19 Vaccine Producers Plan Technology Transfers to Developing Countries
April 21 (EIRNS)— Zheng Zhongwei, director of the Development Center for Medical Science and Technology of China’s National Health Commission, raised the problem yesterday that some 5 billion people in the world outside China threatened by the COVID-19 pandemic have no access to vaccines, “while another 1.2 billion people in places where the epidemic is serious—including the U.S., U.K. and Europe—do have vaccines.” Zheng was addressing the session on COVID-19 at this year’s Boao Forum for Asia.
The two top executives of China’s Sinovac and CanSinoBIO vaccine producers told the session that to address that disparity, they are “mulling” how to transfer at least some part of the technology needed for vaccine production to developing countries, Global Times reports.
CanSinoBIO CEO Yu Xuefeng said the company is considering technology transfer to some qualified countries like Mexico and Pakistan, so that countries in South America and Central Asia can get vaccines more conveniently. The company already exports semi-finished vaccine products to Brazil and Mexico, where they are packaged locally. (“Packaging” a vaccine is not like packaging tablets or capsules, but requires special technology and trained personnel.)
Sinovac Biotech CEO Yin Weidong was more decisive, announcing that his company plans “to select 10 countries for technology transfer as soon as possible” to break the bottleneck, Reuters reports. Sinovac Biotech has already supplied over 60% of the 260 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine which it has produced to countries outside China, he reported, and is producing more than 6 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine per day. According to Zheng, China plans now to produce over 3 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines this year, but hopes to build up its capacity so as to produce some 5 billion doses. China is in the midst of its own vaccination program, and there have been places in the country where a vaccine shortage has meant that some people could not get their second shots in time. Zheng told Global Times yesterday that current production increases should ease the scarcity by June, so that China can provide doses to more people internationally through multilateral and bilateral measures.