Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying accused the United States of hoarding 2.6 billion doses of New Crown vaccine for a population of only 300 million at a press conference on May 14. However, some experts pointed out that this claim is unfounded. The U.S. has provided a lot of help for the global export of New Crown vaccine.
But there is no data to suggest that the U.S. has purchased or pre-ordered as many as two and a half billion doses of the vaccine. A report published April 15 by Duke University estimates that by the end of July, the U.S. is likely to be surplus to the 300 million doses of New Crown vaccine licensed in this country or in the European Union.
Marco Hafner, a senior economist at the RAND Corporation, a U.S. think tank, referred to the Duke University data in an interview with the station. He analyzed to the station that it is unlikely that the U.S. now has 2.6 billion doses of the New Crown vaccine, “and frankly I haven’t found that kind of data anywhere else, and I’m doing my own search on it.”
Also according to German data firm Statista, the total number of vaccines already administered in U.S. states as of May 14 was only 267 million.
Our reporter emailed the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for vaccine data and had not received a response by press time.
A team of researchers led by Hafner is currently studying the possible impact of “vaccine nationalism” on global vaccine production and distribution. He argues that countries, including the United States and the United Kingdom, are currently focused on meeting their own vaccine needs, “which is understandable. Every political leader’s first concern is to serve their own populations so that they can get vaccinated in the first place.”
A report on the project submitted by Hafner’s research team on the RAND Corporation website said vaccine nationalism would result in a global loss of $1.2 trillion in gross national product annually. But Hafner stressed to the station that under the realities of nationalism, many countries are producing and using vaccines primarily on their own. Only in an ideal state would it be possible to distribute vaccines in a balanced way through a global coordination mechanism.
Does the U.S. restrict vaccine exports?
Hua Chunying also stressed at the May 14 press conference that the U.S. restricts the export of vaccines.
However, according to the Financial Times, the U.S. government currently requires pharmaceutical companies to fulfill U.S. government orders first, primarily through the Defense Production Act; at the same time, this law does not allow the U.S. government to ban the export of vaccines.
The Biden administration said back in late April that it would provide 60 million doses of AstraZeneca’s New Crown vaccine to the world, especially to help India, where the vaccine crisis is severe.
Equally important, the New Crown Vaccine Access Facility (COVAX), led by the World Health Organization and others, has the support of the U.S. government, with the Biden administration already pledging a $4 billion contribution and the European Union pledging $3 billion.
In addition, U.S. Trade Representative Dyche spoke with WHO Secretary General Tan Desai on the 14th to discuss how to increase vaccine production and the topic of WTO exemptions for vaccine intellectual property patents. The Biden administration is doing its best to expand the production and distribution of vaccines around the world, said Dyche.
Spiegel News Group commentator Dr. Xiaoping Chen, J.D., noted in this regard that China, in criticizing the U.S., has overlooked the significant contribution the U.S. has made to the world’s new crown vaccine output, “which is donated so that the World Health Organization can go out and place orders with U.S. manufacturers to buy these vaccines. Many people who think of the U.S. as a national priority when it comes to vaccines don’t consider that the U.S. has spent a lot of money to give countries around the world the opportunity to buy these vaccines.”
In addition, in early May, the Biden administration has announced its support for the decision to drop intellectual property protection for the New Crown pneumonia vaccine, although this decision has not yet become official policy.
Meanwhile, the EU has now purchased or pre-ordered 2.6 billion doses of New Crown vaccine for the region’s 450 million people. But the EU is also exporting large quantities of vaccine. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said on May 6 that the EU has exported more than 200 million doses of vaccines to 90 countries. China, on the other hand, supplied only 100 million doses of vaccines to the world at the same time.
Vaccine Diplomacy on the Offensive
Hua Chunying’s accusation that the U.S. is only considering providing vaccines for her own country came in response to the State Department’s 13-day accusation that “certain countries” are using the new vaccine crown for political purposes. Earlier, Taiwan’s diplomatic partner Honduras announced it would set up a commercial office in China to procure China’s New Crown vaccine. It is widely believed that the U.S. accusations are aimed at China.
Notably, the context of Hua Chunying’s statement also sets up the recent progress China has made in the global vaccine export mechanism.
China’s national vaccine became the sixth new crown vaccine approved by the World Health Organization for emergency use on May 7. In a report, Singapore’s Union-Tribune argued that the second leg of the global vaccine diplomacy race has been called, citing scholars who say that China will reinforce its positive image as a major power through the Global New Crown Vaccine Access Mechanism.
But Hua Chunying is apparently reluctant to mention that the effectiveness of the Chinese-made New Crown vaccine has been repeatedly questioned by many countries. The Indian Ocean island nation of Seychelles currently has the highest vaccination rate in the world, with more than 60 percent of its population vaccinated, but this country has seen a recent spike in infections. The survey found that 57 percent of those who received two doses of the vaccine were given the Chinese national vaccine, and 43 percent were given the AstraZeneca vaccine. And while the effectiveness of the Chinese medicine vaccine was only 50%, the AstraZeneca was 90%.