The world’s rich countries are seizing the large vaccine deliveries and the global investment Covax is slow which means that low-income countries will instead have to rely on donations from among others China. According to Oscar Almén, China analyst at the Swedish Defense Research Agency, FOI, it is clear that with the donations, China is trying to enquire goodwill, local media STV writes in a recently published article.
According to the scientific journal The Lancet, about 70 percent of the expected vaccine doses for 2021 have already been sold to rich countries, representing 16 percent of the world’s population. Meanwhile, major powers such as China and India have donated vaccines to poor countries, donations that are not only seen as charity but also what has come to be known as vaccine diplomacy. For example, Sri Lanka and Seychelles have received hundreds of thousands of doses, which is seen as a strategy for more influence in the region.
China has in recent months been praised by world leaders from Cambodia, Pakistan, Zimbabwe, and El Salvador. China has not only sold but also donated millions of its vaccines Sinovac and Sinpoharm to countries that have been left without. To STV Oscar Almén says, “They want to show a positive image of China. While the western world competes and quarrels among themselves about vaccines, China instead distributes its vaccine.”
China wants to convey the image that they are much more supportive and stand on the side of the poor countries. The country also needs to improve relations with other countries, especially when they feel pressured by the West which is a united front, Oscar Almén says.
The World Health Organization, WHO has said it expects to approve the Sinovac and Sinopharm’s vaccine for use in late April or early May. Thereafter, the vaccine is expected to be released through the global vaccination program Covax. According to Börje Ljunggren, former Swedish ambassador to China, so far there has been room for China to be more offensive because Covax has been so weak and underfunded. “But it is important for China to get there. If you show that you have created a vaccine in a short time that meets all requirements, it inspires confidence,” he says.