China will make its coronavirus vaccine a global public good once one is available, President Xi Jinping told the World Health Organization’s governing body.
Xi’s comments come amid growing concern that countries will put national interests first in the quest for a protective shot, seen as the key to getting economies moving again. The WHO is pushing a proposal that aims to ensure broad access to treatments and vaccines while offering an appropriate reward to creators.
“Covid-19 vaccine development and deployment in China, when available, will be made a global public good, which will be China’s contribution to ensuring vaccine accessibility and affordability in developing countries," Xi said in a speech to the World Health Assembly.
Among the dozens of vaccine projects under way worldwide, China has five candidates already in human trials. More will be approved next month.
The country has faced rising scrutiny over its handling of the virus, especially from members of the Trump administration. White House trade adviser Peter Navarro said in a television appearance that the country sent “hundreds of thousands of Chinese on aircraft to Milan, New York and around the world to seed" it.
Xi said China acted with transparency and responsibility all along, and that it provided information to the WHO and countries in the most timely fashion. China will also provide $2 billion over two years to support the fight against the pandemic, especially in developing countries, he said.
Some companies involved in vaccine development have said countries that provide funding will get first dibs.
AstraZeneca Plc Chief Exective Officer Pascal Soriot said the UK will take priority for the University of Oxford’s fast-moving effort to develop a shot. French drugmaker Sanofi’s vaccine that received funding from the US will likely be used there initially, CEO Paul Hudson said last week. Sanofi said later that its vaccine would be available to everyone.