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West's vaccine donation vow rings hollow: China Daily editorial | Updated: 2021-12-28 19:26
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Some samples of expired AstraZeneca coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccines are seen at the Gosa dump site in Abuja, Nigeria, Dec 22, 2021. PHOTO/AGENCIES

Nigeria destroyed more than 1 million doses of expired AstraZeneca vaccines on Dec 22. And the country's health officials said that Nigeria will no longer accept vaccines with a short shelf life.

Senegal will reportedly destroy 400,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccines before the end of this year. And in May, Malawi destroyed 20,000 doses of expired COVID-19 vaccines, and the Democratic Republic of Congo returned 1.3 million doses of vaccines to Western donors as it had no time to administer the vaccines before they expired.

What if these vaccines had been donated by China? The Western media would have been in an uproar. Not surprisingly, there has been a studied silence as the country that has donated most of the expired and soon-to-expire vaccines is the United States. The World Health Organization has called on donor countries to improve the quality of the vaccines they donate to African countries.

Statistics show that till July this year, the amount of COVID-19 vaccines the US had hoarded was far more than its domestic need. It has been estimated that the US and its allies have hoarded millions of doses of COVID-19 vaccines in total.

With the hoarded vaccines soon to expire they are releasing them to fulfill their vaccine donation commitments. According to COVAX, an initiative to ensure vaccine accessibility worldwide led by the WHO, the Western countries often make impromptu donations of short shelf-life vaccines to African countries giving them no advance notice.

Given the conditions in the African countries, where it takes longer to administer vaccines, not to mention the stringent and challenging requirements for the storage and transportation of the Western vaccines, the Western countries' donations are more like dumping their medical waste in Africa.

To some extent, the surfacing of the Omicron variant in Africa is not an accident but a consequence of delayed vaccination in African countries — only 7.5 percent of the 1.3 billion people living in Africa have been vaccinated — which might prompt the Western countries to hoard their vaccines again in the future.

It has been at a high cost in terms of lives lost and people's sufferings, but the COVID-19 pandemic has proved that the world is a community with a shared future. Recognizing this, China has so far provided nearly 2 billion doses of vaccines to more than 120 countries and international organizations. More importantly, it is outsourcing the production of its COVID-19 vaccines to other developing countries so that they can make the vaccines themselves.

China's motive for doing so originates from its firm belief that until the virus withdraws from its last foothold in the world, no country is safe.

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