China’s Covid diplomacy has reached the Middle East, as it announced plans to partner with Egypt in donating half-a-million vaccines to Palestinians in Gaza that would be produced in Egypt.
China’s Ambassador to the UN Geng Shuang told the U.N. Security Council last week that his country would “provide Palestine with much-needed assistance on the existing basis, and donate another one million doses of vaccines to the Palestinian side. China will also partner with Egypt, and use the vaccine bottling factory in Egypt jointly established by the two countries to donate half a million doses of vaccines to Palestinians in Gaza,” The Jerusalem Post quoted him as saying.
According to a World Health Report published in mid-July, 560,195 Palestinians have been vaccinated out of a population of over five million. Out of those, 93,673 were Gaza Palestinians.
“These figures represent around 11% of the total Palestinian population,” the WHO reported. “Of these numbers, the total who have received their second dose are 398,324 in the OPT [occupied Palestinian territories – sic] overall (excluding east Yerushalayim).”
More than 30 Asian countries, including Indonesia and Thailand, have obtained Chinese vaccines either through purchase or donation. Indonesia is one of the biggest buyers of Sinovac vaccines in the world having ordered 125 million doses.
In clinical trials across the world, the Chinese-made Sinovac and Sinopharm’s vaccines have been shown to be 50% to 79% effective in preventing symptomatic Covid infection.
But they are still judged highly effective in preventing hospitalizations or deaths – studies found Sinovac’s jab was 100% effective in Brazil and 96 to 98% effective among Indonesian medical workers, according to the BBC.
The U.S. and Germany have accused China of exploiting the vaccines to promote its political and economic agendas.
Beijing’s foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian denied the charge at a press conference recently, saying that they are not “a tool for political self-interest or an excuse to attack and discredit other countries.”
“We’ve helped more than 100 countries save lives and fight the pandemic without any political conditions attached. If this is regarded as vaccine diplomacy, it is very popular and is in the common interest of the international community,” he said.