German scholar: There is no political factor behind many countries' choice of Chinese vaccine
A screenshot of commentary by Jakob Marder, a researcher at the Mercator Institute, a German think tank
From the perspective of Brussels or Washington, the global introduction of Chinese vaccines will inevitably be seen as a competition between big powers, said Jacob Marder, a researcher at the Mercator Institute, a German think tank, in an opinion piece published by the South China Morning Post on February 20.
However, this is actually typical of western thinking about China's global engagement, which tends to focus on geopolitics and ignore the actual situation of each country.
"From Brazil, Indonesia, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates, the author has heard the same thing again and again from multiple experts and locals who have vaccinated China," the article said. "This is not a political choice, but the only one."
As western countries scramble to vaccinate their own people, politics is not the driving force behind agreements with China to buy new vaccines, but China's ability to meet the actual needs of countries.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan receives the new coronavirus vaccine developed by Sinovac in a hospital in Ankara, Turkey, Jan. 14, 2018.
Serbia has become a front-runner in the continent's vaccination race, the article says, to the consternation of EU countries.
Serbia is using the new crown vaccine produced by Sinopharm.
Serbian President Alekandar Vucic is outspoken about his pro-China stance and even kissed the Chinese flag at the airport, but that is not the main reason he accepted the Chinese vaccine: it is an alternative vaccine.
"Choosing a Chinese vaccine is not about geopolitics," says Stefan Vladisavlevic, a political analyst in Belgrade. "It's about people's livelihood -- people can't die, they have to work, they have to get the economy going again."
The authors say several medical experts they interviewed said that "countries have the right to make their own decisions about the efficacy and safety of Chinese vaccines based on the data they see".
Moreover, the Chinese vaccine business is not a one-way street, and the countries that choose to receive Chinese vaccines also play a key role.
Sinovac has partnered with Brazil's Butantan Institute, and has also signed agreements with research institutions in Indonesia and Malaysia.
Chinese vaccine makers are seeking such partnerships because the low infection rate in China means there are no patients to test the vaccine, but the benefits for partner countries are multiple.
The united Arab emirates G42 group, says the company explores "with the world's leading pharmaceutical companies for vaccine the possibility of cooperation", finally choose China national medicine group of vaccine, because Chinese partner "is willing to carry on the phase 3 trials in the united Arab emirates, to ensure that deepen the understanding of safety procedures, and vaccine production capacity in the local construction".
Sinopharmaceutical offers a partnership not available to Western vaccine manufacturers, a full transfer of manufacturing technology and capacity, and the opportunity to produce the new crown vaccine in the UAE for regional distribution.
The author concludes by emphasizing that in the current climate of tension between the West and China, it seems difficult to report on what China is doing without some sort of moralizing.
But objectivity is crucial if a "strategic competition" is really to be won.
Beijing is meeting countries' vaccine needs and helping to fill a huge supply gap -- something Brussels and Washington will need to do better if they are to win the competition.
(Editing by Qilai Liu Shidong)