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China-made shots hailed as lifesavers

China Daily | Updated: 2021-02-26 09:52
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Colombian health workers keep watch over newly vaccinated residents of an aged-care home in Sibate, near Bogota, on Wednesday. They were given the Sinovac vaccine. RAUL ARBOLEDA/AFP

Rapid takeup worldwide, including via donations, attests to friendly ties

ANKARA - Vaccines developed by China are an important tool for defeating the COVID-19 pandemic, saving lives around the world as they are put to work in mass inoculation programs, foreign officials and experts said.

A batch of a vaccine donated by China arrived in Mozambique on Wednesday to help the East African country fight the coronavirus. It was also the first COVID-19 vaccine to be received by the country.

Mozambican Prime Minister Carlos Agostinho do Rosario praised China's role in fighting the pandemic and thanked the Chinese people for the friendship.

The "rapid availability of vaccines against COVID-19 reflects the commitment and determination" of both the Chinese and Mozambican governments in guaranteeing people's well-being, he added.

The country's vaccination plan will prioritize high-risk groups including health professionals, said the prime minister, and more details will be shared by the health ministry.

Also on Wednesday, Algeria received a donation of supplies of a vaccine from Chinese drugmaker Sinopharm.

Algerian Communication Minister Ammar Belhimer handed over a letter of gratitude from the Algerian government to the Chinese government for the donation, saying "the Chinese Sinopharm vaccines come to sustain our vaccination campaign ... and protect the lives of our citizens".

In Latin America, the Sinopharm vaccine arrived in Bolivia on Wednesday for the largest vaccination drive ever in the country.

"Bolivia now has the vaccines. We have the solution ... Now we are going to vaccinate everyone," Bolivian President Luis Arce said, adding that the nationwide vaccination campaign was due to begin on Thursday.

Mass vaccinations

Elsewhere in the region, mass vaccinations began last week in Colombia's capital Bogota with a vaccine from Sinovac Biotech, health authorities said. The drive began with the immunization of healthcare workers.

In Turkey where a large vaccination campaign has been launched with the Sinovac vaccine, Canturk Alagoz, chief executive officer of Keymen Pharmaceuticals, said his country was grateful to the government of China for this safe product, known as CoronaVac.

The Turkish firm also conducted clinical trials of the Sinovac jab in Turkey, and said the vaccine has a very good safety profile.

"We thank the people and the administration of China. Sinovac has helped overcome a serious hurdle in mass inoculation in Turkey and other countries. It makes lives better," said the head of the medical company, CoronaVac's distributor in Turkey.

Turkey launched in mid-January a mass inoculation drive with the Sinovac jab, aiming to vaccinate 60 percent of its population ultimately.

Some 7.5 million people have been vaccinated so far, essentially health workers and the elderly, according to data from the health ministry. Education Minister Ziya Selcuk received his first shot on Wednesday. Teachers are next in line as Turkey plans to reopen schools as of March 1.

"This vaccine saves lives, we have seen it in the global fight against the pandemic, especially in developing countries," he said, praising China's practice in making a vaccine against this deadly disease and sharing it with other countries.

So far, China has provided vaccine assistance to more than 50 developing countries in need, and exported vaccines to over 20 countries. It has also decided to provide 10 million vaccine doses to multilateral vaccine alliance COVAX to meet the urgent needs of developing countries, many of which are in Africa.

Earlier, Sinovac announced that it will export semifinished jabs to some countries, and help build local filling and packaging lines in importing countries to improve production capacity and efficiency.

"China's attitude to share it with the rest of the world is right and fair," Alagoz said.

Liu Xuan in Beijing and Xinhua contributed to this story.

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