China said on Wednesday it will provide 10 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines to the global vaccine sharing initiative COVAX to meet the urgent needs of developing countries.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said at a daily news briefing that China is responding to a request from the World Health Organization as developing countries seek to make up for shortages of the vaccines.
The WHO has started to review the authorization for emergency use of the Chinese vaccines, Wang said, adding that Chinese enterprises will continue to cooperate actively and that he hopes the review process will be completed as soon as possible.
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of the WHO, said in January that there needs to be a "collective commitment" within the next 100 days to get vaccinations underway worldwide for health workers and others who are at high risk of contracting COVID-19.
China attaches great importance to Tedros' appeal and the difficulties facing the practical implementation of the COVAX initiative, in particular the huge vaccine supply gap in February and March, Wang said.
It is another important step taken by China to ensure equitable distribution of vaccines, promote international anti-pandemic cooperation and uphold the concept of a shared community of health for all, he said.
The WHO-led COVAX initiative aims to secure at least 2 billion doses by the end of 2021 and ensure equitable access for 92 low－and middle-income countries that cannot afford to pay for vital supplies on their own. China joined the initiative in October.
"We hope capable countries will swing into action, support COVAX through concrete actions, back the WHO's work, assist developing countries in obtaining vaccines in a timely manner and contribute to the international community overcoming the pandemic at an early date," Wang said.
He noted that Beijing is in close communication and cooperation with the WHO to ensure vaccine accessibility and affordability in developing countries.
Speaking at the opening of the 73rd session of the World Health Assembly via video link in May, President Xi Jinping announced that China's COVID-19 vaccines would be made a global public good.
Ever since then, the country has been making great efforts to fulfill its commitment.
China has exported large amounts of domestically developed vaccines to countries including the United Arab Emirates, Morocco, Indonesia, Turkey, Brazil and Chile, where clinical studies of Chinese vaccines have been conducted.
It also supports relevant companies in exporting vaccines to countries in urgent need that have approved Chinese vaccines and authorized their emergency use.
On Monday, the first shipment of China-donated COVID-19 vaccines reached Pakistan. The country formally started the drive to administer the vaccines to its front-line healthcare workers on Wednesday, Xinhua News Agency reported.
According to the Foreign Ministry, China is also providing vaccine assistance to another 13 developing countries and will continue to provide such assistance to another 38 developing countries in the next phase.