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China’s Covid vaccine drive comes under Taiwan cloud

China’s Covid vaccine drive comes under Taiwan cloud

China’s image has taken a hard knock on the pharmaceutical front with Taiwan making it very clear that it would not buy COVID vaccines manufactured by Chinese companies due to safety and regulatory concerns.

According to reports in Taiwanese media, Chen Shih-Chung, head of the Central Epidemic Command Center, said the reasons for the decision include the questionable quality of Chinese vaccines and production processes, which have both been a source of safety concerns. He denied allegations on Sunday that Taiwan is putting ideology before public health by not seeking Chinese vaccines.

Chou Jih-haw, who sits on Taiwan’s coronavirus task force, added that China is infamous for its inoculation history of flawed vaccine management and administration. Scandals have surfaced in China over the years, including over the use of expired polio vaccines in 2019, which led to adverse effects, and <a href="https://www.who.int/china/home/22-01-2014-china-resumed-the-use-of-biokangtai-s-hepatitis-b-vaccines" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">hepatitis B vaccines</a> associated with a string of deaths in 2013.

Chen has also made it clear that although Taiwan had signed up for the WHO-led global COVAX vaccine allocation plan it would not buy vaccines made in China through COVAX even if they were approved. COVAX is a global initiative aimed at accelerating the development and manufacturing of COVID-19 vaccines and ensuring a fair and equitable access to the vaccines for every country.

Communist China has been divulging very little about its vaccine development programme to the outside world. Even without final approval, more than 1 million healthcare workers and others who are seen as facing a high risk of infection in China have received experimental vaccines under emergency use permission. But developers have yet to disclose how effective their vaccines are and the possible side effects that they may have.

Health experts question why China is using experimental vaccines on such a vast scale now that the coronavirus outbreak is largely under control in the country.

Indianarrative.com had also reported recently that in a major setback to China’s devious vaccine diplomacy, ASEAN members Thailand, the Philippines and Malaysia have finalised deals for procuring COVID-19 vaccines from Britain and the US.

Beijing deliberately delayed disclosing details of the genetic material of the coronavirus, that originated in the Chinese city of Wuhan at the end of 2019. This had handicapped efforts of other countries to develop a vaccine to fight the deadly pandemic.

Since China was the only country to have key information about the dreaded coronavirus in the initial stages, it got a head start for developing a vaccine. Ironically, the authoritarian nation then started offering its potential vaccine to other countries with strings attached so that it could gain more geopolitical clout.

Newspapers in Hong Kong and Singapore have reported that as a quid pro quo for the vaccine, the ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian nations) members had been asked to support China at the World Health Organisation (WHO) as it has been facing the heat for hiding information on the highly contagious coronavirus. Citing a source privy to Li’s meeting with ASEAN leaders, a reporter from China’s Xinhua news agency had also posted on his Weibo account that Li had made ASEAN support at the WHO a prerequisite for the assistance to fight COVID-19.

Beijing has been looking for support to ward off international pressure for an independent investigation into the origins of the virus in China which would expose the dubious role that it played in concealing information that could have saved thousands of lives worldwide. With the US blaming both China and the WHO for not disclosing the true facts about the dreaded virus, China is keen to replace Washington in playing a bigger role at the international organisation.

However, the ASEAN countries are wary of China as it has been flexing its military muscle and laying claim to their territories as part of President Xi Jinping’s increasingly expansionist foreign policy. The Philippines and Thailand have now secured millions of doses of the COVID-19 vaccine developed by Oxford University and AstraZeneca..