China: U.S. Prioritizing Vaccines for Americans Hurts Its ‘Shaky Leadership’

In this picture taken on April 29, 2020, an engineer shows an experimental vaccine for the COVID-19 coronavirus that was tested at the Quality Control Laboratory at the Sinovac Biotech facilities in Beijing. - Sinovac Biotech, which is conducting one of the four clinical trials that have been authorised in …
NICOLAS ASFOURI/AFP via Getty Images

China’s state-run Global Times on Wednesday continued its effort to capitalize on the coronavirus pandemic in India by accusing the United States of selfishness for “sitting on tens of millions of vaccines” instead of sharing them with other nations.

“Stockpiling the COVID-19 [Chinese coronavirus] vaccines may help accelerate the U.S. vaccination pace for now, but such selfish deed also undermines the country’s shaky leadership and credibility in international society,” the Global Times lectured, presumably hoping its readers will not remember China’s mad dash to buy up all of the medical protective equipment in the world before the Wuhan coronavirus became a pandemic.

The Global Times made much of reports that the U.S. is developing “300 million or more excess doses of vaccines” thanks to advance purchase agreements and the leadership of American companies in vaccination efforts, in “contrast” with Chinese producers exporting 200 million doses of their questionable vaccines.

The Chinese paper conceded that the U.S. has agreed to “share 60 million doses of AstraZeneca’s coronavirus vaccine with other countries in the coming months,” but still chided Washington for allowing vaccine inventories to grow even as “the infectious curve in the U.S. has flattened” and demand for vaccines is falling.

As even the fulminating Global Times grudgingly admitted, the U.S. does not yet have enough vaccine to fully inoculate its population – “there are 100 million excessive doses if everyone in the US gets one jab in their arms,” but most of the vaccines require two jabs, plus possible booster shots.

In the course of railing against alleged American “vaccine nationalism” and claiming President Joe Biden has embraced his predecessor Donald Trump’s “America First” outlook, the editorial tripped over one of the things that really bothers the Chinese Communist Party – despite spirited efforts, it has not been able to steal the technology that makes Western vaccines so effective:

Zhuang Shilihe, a Guangzhou-based vaccine expert, said that the US has absolute monopoly on mRNA technology. That is why they applies export ban at this emergency time to ensure American producers such as Pfizer to get abundant material supply.

And American procures would not rely on one subcontractor in production. They would divide production procedure and delegate each step to different manufacturer while grabs the core technology in their own hands, Zhuang told the Global Times on Tuesday.

Complaints about “vaccine nationalism” ignore the political difficulty of telling people who have been subjected to lockdowns, masking, and economic disruption for a year that vaccines developed by their own country must be shipped to foreign countries first. Officials in hard-hit India admit they could face similar pressures to keep manufactured vaccines in India after supplies of raw materials from the United States resume.

The BBC on Tuesday quoted virologists who warned India could be a special case of concern to the entire world because the rapidly expanding coronavirus wave running through its huge population could produce vaccine-resistant mutations. So far less than ten percent of Indians have received the first dose of any vaccine, and only about two percent are fully vaccinated.

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