Trustworthy Chinese vaccines can help raise inoculation in Europe
As the third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic roars across Europe, countries in the continent are struggling to push ahead with their vaccination rollouts amid surging infection rates, fresh restrictions and lockdowns, as well as vaccine shortages.
Facing criticism for their slow inoculation campaigns, European countries are earnestly trying to fill the vaccine gap. At this crucial moment, Chinese vaccines can be a trustworthy alternative as they are not only available, but their safety has also been approved in several European Union (EU) member states.
Noticeably, Hungary and Serbia have spearheaded mass inoculation in Europe with China's COVID-19 vaccines. Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz has also noted that vaccines from Russia and China are welcome in his country and the EU.
Earlier in February, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron said that their countries are open to any vaccines approved by the European Medicines Agency (EMA), which has so far only given the green light to vaccines produced by Pfizer/BioNTech, Moderna and AstraZeneca.
The EU's controversial joint vaccine procurement strategy has slowed the continent's inoculation process, constraining the ability of the 27-member state bloc to contain the pandemic.
As of April 11, only 15.34 percent of the EU's total population have received at least one jab of COVID-19 vaccines, far less than the front runners -- Israel (61.46 percent) and the United States (35.65 percent), according to official data collected by Our World in Data, a project of the Britain-based Global Change Data Lab.
Yet in contrast, some European countries are ahead in the process with the help of Chinese vaccines.
Hungary has so far ranked sixth across the globe in terms of COVID-19 vaccination rate, with more than 30 percent of its population having received at least one jab. That is because Hungary did not wait for jab approvals from the EMA and imported vaccines from China and Russia to supplement its supply.
Hungarian President Janos Ader and Prime Minister Viktor Orban have both received jabs of Chinese vaccines.
Serbia, where over 25 percent of its population have received at least one jab of the vaccines as of April 11, is another model in securing multi-channel vaccine supplies.
In addition to the Russian Sputnik V vaccines and those developed by Pfizer/BioNTech and Oxford-AstraZeneca, Serbia has also purchased a large number of the Sinopharm vaccines from China with millions of doses shipped.
Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic received a dose of the Chinese vaccine on April 6, saying that he was feeling well. Thanks to the recent large-scale vaccination campaign, Serbian virologists said the country's pandemic has been contained to a considerable extent.
Outside Europe, many state leaders, including Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Indonesian President Joko Widodo and Peruvian President Francisco Sagasti, have been inoculated with Chinese vaccines.
Since viruses respect no borders, life-saving vaccines should not be limited geographically due to political prejudice or geo-strategic calculations.
With their proven efficacy in multiple countries, Chinese vaccines can definitely be taken as a trustworthy alternative if Europe really wants to expedite its vaccination efforts and effectively curb the pandemic for its own sake and that of the whole world.