China’s state-run Global Times dismissed the mRNA technology vaccines against Chinese coronavirus used in America as too “high-priced” and “complicated” for Africa on Monday, shortly before dictator Xi Jinping announced China would give the continent 1 billion doses of its low-quality alternatives.
Xi’s announcement followed statements by alarmed members of the World Health Organization (W.H.O.) last week that a new variant of Chinese coronavirus, dubbed “Omicron,” is far more highly mutated than its predecessor variants and may thus be far more contagious. The W.H.O. branded Omicron a “variant of concern.” Doctors in South Africa first documented the existence of the variant, though its origin remains a point of debate among researchers at press time.
Scientists internationally have warned in the past week that they have little information regarding Omicron. Doctors who have treated Omicron patients in southern Africa have described its symptoms as milder than those of previous iterations of Chinese coronavirus, however, and the W.H.O. has suggested that rising hospitalization rates in South Africa “may be due to increasing overall numbers of people becoming infected, rather than a result of specific infection with Omicron.”
#China will offer additional 1 bln doses of #COVID19 vaccines including through joint production with local firms. Analysts said Chinese inactivated vaccine production meets Africa's core needs with cost-efficient methods https://t.co/msICbFX6LS
— Global Times (@globaltimesnews) November 29, 2021
China’s call for African nations to turn away from mRNA technology vaccines contradicts calls from the head of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Gao Fu, for Beijing to turn away from its low-protection domestic vaccines and embrace mRNA technology.
China has primarily focused on distributing two domestic brands of coronavirus vaccine product – from the firms Sinovac and Sinopharm – internationally. Both products use inactivated coronavirus cells to trigger an immune response, a more conventional technology. Xi did not specify which brands of Chinese vaccines African nations would receive in Beijing’s upcoming giveaway.
China, the Global Times asserted on Monday, would be “meeting the continent’s [Africa’s] core needs with cost-efficient methods for producing inactivated vaccines that are more suitable for these countries than the West’s high-priced and complicated mRNA vaccines,” citing unspecified “analysts.”
Two major-label mRNA vaccines for Chinese coronavirus inoculation are currently in global circulation, the only two available mRNA technology products in the world – offered by the American firms Moderna and Pfizer. The Global Times did not note that the Pfizer product was developed in a partnership with a Chinese company, Fosun Pharma.
“Observers” told the Global Times that Chinese manufacturing in Africa would help the continent “see its vaccination rates greatly improved and its immunological barrier against the pandemic strengthened.” Other unspecified “analysts” complained that Western countries were “hoarding” the vaccines that the Global Times asserted, citing other “analysts,” were useless in Africa.
The propaganda outlet then abruptly shifted to noting that Moderna is investing hundreds of millions of dollars in vaccine development in Africa.
The Global Times and other propaganda outlets run by the Communist Party have repeatedly attempted to smear America’s mRNA vaccine products as unsafe and ineffective. Greatly compromising this argument in April, however, Gao Fu, the head of the Chinese CDC, said publicly that Chinese-made vaccine products “don’t have very high protection rates” and urged Beijing to invest in mRNA technology.
“Everyone should consider the benefits mRNA vaccines can bring for humanity. We must follow it carefully and not ignore it just because we already have several types of vaccines already,” Gao said at the time, before calling exact quotes of his remarks a “complete misunderstanding.”
Despite Gao’s backtracking, Fosun Pharma filed for approval of the Pfizer mRNA vaccine almost immediately after his remarks. China also claimed to be nearing completion on the development of its own mRNA vaccine product at the time, but has yet to approve it.
By July, the Global Times was again insisting that Chinese products were superior on the grounds that “inactivated vaccines carry all antigens of the virus, so they are able to neutralize a wider coverage of variants.” Sinovac began urging its customers to receive a third “booster” shot of its coronavirus product that same month, a suggestion Pfizer and Moderna have also made to its patients.
The CEO of Moderna, Stéphane Bancel, said in an interview this week that he believes the company’s coronavirus product will see its efficacy diminish in the face of the Omicron variant.
“I think it’s going to be a material drop. I just don’t know how much because we need to wait for the data. But all the scientists I’ve talked to … are like ‘this is not going to be good,'” Bancel said.
Moderna’s mRNA vaccine initially tested at an over 90-percent efficacy rate against Chinese coronavirus. Sinovac, in contrast, barely hit the 50-percent threshold to be considered effective at all. Sinopharm performed better, at an alleged 78-percent efficacy rate.
The United States has pledged to donate 1.1 billion vaccines doses around the world and has delivered 243 million doses as of Monday. Sub-Saharan Africa has received by far the largest number of these doses, about 64 million as of Monday – about 6 million more than the second-highest recipient, East Asia. About half of these donations have been of the Pfizer-Fosun Pharma product.
The Global Times did not report on American vaccine donations in its screed.
Xi Jinping announced his billion-dose vaccine giveaway on Tuesday during a ministeral conference meant to enhance Chinese influence in Africa. The state-run Chinese Xinhua News Agency claimed in its coverage of Xi’s remarks that America has “never truly respected African countries” and suffered from an inferior “racial mindset.”
“Aside from turmoil, conflicts, lip service and empty promises, the U.S. has brought nothing to African countries,” Xinhua claimed, citing a Chinese regime-approved “expert.” The outlet did not note the disproportionate American vaccine dose donations to Africa and omitted the widespread reports of systemic racial discrimination in China, where police placed black-skinned people under house arrest for no reason, businesses banned black customers, and landlords expelled black tenants over rumors than only “foreigners” were spreading coronavirus last year. The Chinese Communist Party has never formally apologized for its members’ racism to its victims.
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