How China Is Trying to Capitalize on the COVID-19 Vaccine Race

How China Is Trying to Capitalize on the COVID-19 Vaccine Race
An employee of Chinese pharmaceutical giant Sinovac works in a lab at a factory producing its vaccine for COVID-19, Beijing, Sept. 24, 2020 (AP photo by Ng Han Guan).

Editor’s Note: Every Wednesday, WPR contributor Lavender Au and Assistant Editor Benjamin Wilhelm curate the week’s top news and expert analysis on China. Subscribers can adjust their newsletter settings to receive China Note by email every week.

The global race for COVID-19 vaccines has serious implications for how soon countries will be able to return to something resembling pre-pandemic normality. China has struck deals with more than a dozen countries to develop vaccines, including many with which it has close trade ties, amid questions about the vaccine trials and their eventual rollouts.

Billions of doses are needed, and one of China’s pharmaceutical giants—state-owned Sinopharm, which has developed two vaccine candidates—has already pledged to produce more than 1 billion doses next year. Vaccines are part of China’s narrative of successfully containing COVID-19 at home, and also part of its diplomatic strategy abroad. If they prove effective, Chinese vaccines may be popular in the developing world as they can be stored using conventional cold-storage methods, while China’s massive manufacturing capacity at home will help keep the price low.

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