Though China and Africa are far apart, China's COVID-19 vaccine aid to Africa must travel the long distance and outpace the virus, Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi said here on Tuesday, reaffirming China's commitment to vaccine aids to African countries.
Wang made the remarks during a joint press conference with Senegalese Foreign Minister Aissata Tall Sall after chairing here the 8th Ministerial Conference of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC).
Answering the question about China's specific consideration and measures to deliver its new vaccine aid to Africa, Wang said Chinese President Xi Jinping announced at the opening ceremony that China would provide an additional 1 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines to Africa, among which 600 million doses are donation and 400 million doses will be provided through such means as joint production by Chinese enterprises and relevant African countries.
This crucial move responds to the biggest concerns of African countries at present and has been highly praised by African leaders and representatives, he said, adding that China always honors its promises and walks the talk.
Wang further stressed five points in this regard.
First, China was the first country proposing to make COVID-19 vaccines a global public good. In the early stages of the COVID-19 outbreak, President Xi raised the proposal to benefit, in particular, developing countries. At a time when global vaccine supplies were most strained, China has overcome its own difficulties to take the lead in providing vaccines to developing countries in dire need.
So far, China has provided more than 1.8 billion doses of vaccines to more than 120 countries and international organizations, of which about 180 million doses were provided to Africa, covering almost all African countries.
Second, with the advance of global vaccination against COVID-19, a huge "immunization gap" has emerged in Africa, as its overall vaccination rate was lower than one fifth of the global average. This is extremely unfair and unreasonable for Africa and must be corrected as soon as possible. The lives and health of African people are as valuable and important as those of people elsewhere. As a good friend of African countries, China stands ready to make new contributions to Africa's access to more vaccines and provide a strong boost to the African Union goal of vaccinating 60 percent of the African population by 2022. With concrete actions, China has demonstrated a fine China-Africa tradition of mutual assistance and sharing weal and woe, interpreting the necessary significance of the China-Africa community with a shared future in the new era.
Third, China's vaccine production capacity continues to increase, a guarantee to the supply of vaccines to Africa. Currently, excluding China, about 5.6 billion doses of vaccines have been administered globally, with China providing one-third of them. The Chinese vaccines have produced good efficacy and economic and social benefits in more than 100 countries. China's position is firm and clear -- as long as African people are in need, China will continue to provide vaccines to African countries until the epidemic is defeated.
Fourth, China is ready to jointly produce vaccines with African countries. China was the first to support the exemption of intellectual property rights for vaccines and to conduct vaccine production cooperation with other developing countries. Under the guidance of the Chinese government, Chinese companies have been producing vaccines in cooperation with 19 countries, including Egypt, Algeria, Morocco and other African countries. Chinese vaccines can not only be manufactured in China, but also in Africa. They can also be jointly manufactured by China and Africa, so as to enhance Africa's capacity to produce vaccines locally.
Fifth, many friends may be concerned about vaccine transportation. China and Africa are far apart, but the vaccine aid to Africa must travel the long distance and outpace the virus. The two sides can adopt flexible and diverse approaches they both accept, including keeping in alignment with global and African platforms, resort to multiple channels and race against time to ensure vaccine delivery to every corner and every person in need in Africa in a timely manner.
The ruthless disaster brings out the warmth of humanity, Wang said, adding that until the epidemic is vanquished, China will stand firmly with African countries, fully implement the major measures of vaccine assistance announced by President Xi, ensure the accessibility and affordability of vaccines in Africa, and jointly make greater contribution to the fight against the pandemic in Africa and worldwide.