Xinhua Commentary: China’s Sinopharm vaccine to play greater role in helping defeat COVID-19

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by Xinhua writers Fu Yiming, Chen Junxia, Liu Qu

GENEVA, May 8 (Xinhua) — World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus announced Friday that China’s Sinopharm COVID-19 vaccine has been validated for emergency use.

This makes it the first Chinese vaccine that has been officially recognized by the WHO. This also means that the China vaccine can play a greater role in helping defeat the COVID-19 pandemic.

Sinopharm’s vaccine is the first COVID-19 vaccine developed by a developing country that has been validated by the WHO, and the sixth vaccine that has been approved for emergency use globally. Ghebreyesus said the WHO has included this vaccine on the emergency use list because of its “safety, efficacy and quality.”

Indeed, this vaccine has been proved to be effective with solid data to support this. Just as Mariangela Simao, WHO assistant director general for access to health products, pointed out the vaccine’s efficacy for symptomatic and hospitalized disease was estimated to be 79 percent, for all age groups combined.

“The addition of this vaccine has the potential to rapidly accelerate COVID-19 vaccine access for countries seeking to protect health workers and populations at risk,” she said.

A small detail can show the vaccine’s convenience for storage and use. The vaccines carry a vial monitor, a small sticker on the vaccine vials that can change its color when the vaccine has been exposed to heat, which can directly tell whether the vaccine can be safely used. A WHO press release also noted that the Sinopharm vaccine is easy to store, making it highly suitable for low-resource settings.

As the world is racing against time to beat COVID-19, the Sinopharm vaccine offers countries more choices with its accessibility and affordability, helping the world overcome the vaccine divide.

The WHO has repeatedly urged some developed countries to stop over-purchasing vaccines or imposing vaccine export restrictions. United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres has repeatedly criticized some developed countries for hoarding vaccines and striking private deals with vaccine suppliers, as some developing countries are struggling to get access to vaccines.

China has, so far, provided vaccine assistance to more than 80 developing countries, helping them solve their urgent needs and saving many lives. Once on the WHO list of emergency use, the Chinese vaccine can help accelerate the promotion of global vaccine coverage, which is crucial to international cooperation on controlling the pandemic as soon as possible.

Last but not least, the validation of the Sinopharm vaccine by the WHO has also greatly boosted the confidence of developing countries to strengthen their research and development capabilities to seek solutions for major domestic and global health problems. As the WHO chief noted, “this expands the list of vaccines that COVAX can buy, and gives countries confidence to expedite their own regulatory approval, and to import and administer a vaccine.” Enditem

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