China pledges COVID-19 vaccine will be “global public good”

Speaking at the 73rd World Health Assembly (WHA) yesterday (18 May 2020) via video link, Chinese President Xi Jinping announced that any vaccine to COVID-19 developed by China would be made available as a “global public good”.

The Chinese Premier also promised additional “concrete measures” to boost the global fight against COVID-19 including providing more international aid and greater cooperation.

The WHA is the decision-making body of the United Nation’s World Health Organisation (WHO). The 73rd session of the WHA, scheduled from Monday to Tuesday, is being held via video link due to the impact of the current pandemic.

President Xi pledged that “China will provide $2 billion USD over two years to help with COVID-19 response and with economic and social development in affected countries, especially developing countries.”

“China will work with the United Nations to set up a global humanitarian response depot and hub in China, ensure the operation of anti-epidemic supply chains and foster “green corridors” for fast-track transportation and customs clearance.” he said.

In addition Xi stated that “China will establish a cooperation mechanism for its hospitals to pair up with 30 African hospitals and accelerate the building of the Africa Centre for Disease Control headquarters to help the continent ramp up its disease preparedness and control capacity.”

“COVID-19 vaccine development and deployment in China, when available, will be made a global public good.”

Xi stated that “This will be China’s contribution to ensuring vaccine accessibility and affordability in developing countries”.

The Chinese President’s speech also noted that China would work with other G20 countries to implement the Debt Service Suspension Initiative for the poorest countries. Xi added that China was also ready to work with the international community to bolster support for the hardest-hit countries under the greatest strain of international debt .

Xi stated that China staunchly supported the WHO as a mechanism mobilise resources worldwide to defeat the pandemic. The president confirmed that China would back a “comprehensive” WHO led review of the outbreak. China donated $30 million USD to the WHO at  the end of April, in part to make up the shortfall created by Donald Trump’s decision to cut US funding during the pandemic.

The WHO agenda was condensed only to essential issues, such as COVID-19 and the executive board members selection.

When questioned about his decision to take unproven anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine to prevent COVID-19, Trump stated: “If it’s not good, I’ll tell you right, I’m not going to get hurt by it”

The United States also published a letter to the WHO yesterday criticising the WHO’s “alarming lack of independence” from China. The letter set down a 30-day deadline for the WHO to commit to “substantive improvements” , without stating what was required.

Donald Trump has stated that failure to comply with the deadline would lead to the US maintaining its freeze on WHO funding or to “reconsider [their] future in the organisation”.

The United States, its allies, the UK and the European Union have also sought to stoke up tensions around the attendance of Taiwan at the WHA. Taiwan is a breakaway region of China which was occupied by Nationalist forces at the end of the Chinese Civil War.

Trump, who faces re-election in November, also revealed yesterday that he is taking hydroxychloroquine to ward off COVID-19, despite US public health officials warning it may cause heart problems.

Challenge News Desk

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