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Over 50 African diplomats visit vaccine manufacturer in China

By Otiato Opali in Nairobi, Kenya | | Updated: 2020-10-20 03:09
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FILE PHOTO: A booth displaying a coronavirus disease (COVID-19) Human Immunoglobulin for Intravenous Injection from China National Biotec Group (CNBG), a unit of state-owned pharmaceutical giant China National Pharmaceutical Group (Sinopharm), is seen at the 2020 China International Fair for Trade in Services (CIFTIS), following the COVID-19 outbreak, in Beijing, China September 4, 2020. [Photo/Agencies]

At the invitation of China's African Affairs Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 51 African envoys and senior diplomats on Oct 16 paid a visit to Sinopharm, one of the world's leading human vaccine research, development and manufacturing enterprises.

According to Wu Peng, the director general at the department of African affairs in China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the visit was the first physical group event of African diplomats organized by the secretariat of the Forum on China–Africa Cooperation or FOCAC follow up committee since the outbreak of COVID-19.

"China is ready to strengthen vaccine cooperation with African countries on the basis of fully respecting Africa's will. We are prepared to provide vaccines to African countries as a matter of priority," Wu said. "China's position is clear, vaccine development is a matter of human health. We call on the international community to come together in solidarity with respect for science and life."

Wu added that China is happy to see any country or company make early progress in vaccine development and expressed China's hope that African countries' vaccine cooperation with other countries can come to fruition at an early date.

The visit, which was aimed at deepening cooperation in the fight against the pandemic and build a better China-Africa health community, saw the diplomats touring the exhibition center and vaccine production laboratory. They also learned about the latest clinical trials of the company's COVID-19 vaccine.

While addressing the delegation Liu Jingzhen, chairman of the Sinopharm Group, outlaid the outstanding achievements of Sinopharm in COVID-19 drug manufacturing, medical treatment and vaccine research and development. He also said that Sinopharm stands ready to further strengthen COVID-19 vaccine and other aspects of cooperation with African countries to jointly defeat the virus.

"Back in May, Chinese President Xi Jinping said China will make any COVID-19 vaccine it develops a global public good that is accessible and affordable to developing countries, especially African countries. He said priority must be given to helping African countries with weaker healthcare systems," Liu said.

Inoussa Moustapha, the acting dean of African diplomatic corps in China and Niger's Ambassador to China, expressed the diplomats' gratitude to China for actively supporting Africa in the battle against the pandemic.

"This cooperation shows the high level of China-Africa relations. China's pledge to make vaccines a global public good and provide them to developing countries as first recipients is an important step taken to uphold the concept of a community of common health for mankind. As representatives of our countries, we want to let you know that Africa speaks highly of China's efforts during this pandemic," Moustapha said.

According to Ernest Ndomahina, Sierra Leone's Ambassador to China, it is reassuring for African nations to know that China is prepared to provide vaccines to African countries as a matter of priority.

"This visit is so much impactful and insightful. We learned so much about how China is making this great nation move forward despite the pandemic. We are glad that China is making sure that Africa is well and safe and I believe this cooperation can empower Africa, and can strengthen our future collaboration."

Sinopharm is currently carrying out international phase three clinical trials for a COVID-19 vaccine in ten countries, including the United Arab Emirates, Peru and Argentina. More than 50,000 volunteers are taking part in these trials according to the company.

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