Chinese President Xi Jinping pledged 2 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines would be supplied to the world through this year, increasing China’s commitment as the largest exporter of the shots.
That figure likely includes the 770 million doses China has already donated or exported already since September last year, according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Most of the Chinese shots have been exported under bilateral deals. It is unclear if the figure also includes the agreements with the COVAX mechanism where two Chinese vaccine manufacturers will provide up to 550 million doses.
Xi also promised to donate $100 million to the UN-backed COVAX program, which aims to distribute vaccines to low- and middle-income countries, the official Xinhua News Agency said Wednesday night.
Vaccine distributions have been starkly unequal, as wealthy countries now consider issuing booster shots to their citizens and poorer nations struggle to get enough vaccines for a first dose.
Hundreds of millions of Chinese shots, the vast majority of which are from Sinopharm and Sinovac, have already been administered to people in many countries across the world, as many were desperate for access to any vaccine.
However the vaccines have been followed with questions and concerns, especially as the highly transmissible delta variant spread and caused the number of COVID-19 deaths to climb again.