Inside the gray area at Shenzhen International Airport in southern China, a series of white rooms sit in a corner connected by a wire, each fitted with a custom display screen displaying custom-made heat inside.
A security guard wearing a mask, a surgical gown, and rubber gloves is alert. Anyone entering the latter part must spend two weeks separated or wear a suit on their head.
Vaccine Ready To Dispatch
The climate control rooms, covering an area of 350 square meters (3,767 square meters), will soon be filled with rows and lines of Chinese-made Covid-19 vaccine – after obtaining approval from the country’s drug regulators. From there, they will be loaded into air-conditioned parts of cargo jets and fly to continents around the world.
In the coming months, China will send hundreds of millions of doses of coronavirus vaccines to countries that have undergone end-stage testing. Chinese leaders have also promised a growing list of developing countries to have access to effective vaccines.
This global campaign gives China a chance to fix its image, which has been damaged by first-hand treatment of the coronavirus – rather than blaming the underlying spread of the undiagnosed virus for helping to eradicate the epidemic.
The vaccine could also be used by Beijing “as a foreign policy tool to promote soft power and project international influence,” said Yanzhong Huang, a global health official at the Washington-based Foreign Relations Council.
Earlier in the day, China’s efforts to gain favor by donating masks and other items to countries that were severely affected by the virus were marred by reports of low-level resources, with Beijing allegedly launching an information campaign to change the history of coronavirus.
Beijing’s vaccine ambassador, Huang said, could give it another chance.
China currently has five coronavirus employers from four companies that have already completed phase 3 clinical trials, which is the last and most important step in pre-licensing testing.
Having largely released coronavirus within its borders, Chinese drugmakers had to travel abroad to find places to test the effectiveness of their vaccines. Together, they have conducted phase 3 exams in at least 16 countries.
In exchange, many host countries are promised early access to effective vaccines – and in some cases, technologies to be able to do it locally.
Sinovac Biotech, a Beijing-based Nasdaq drug manufacturer, has signed deals to supply 46 million doses of his Covid-19 vaccine in Brazil
and 50 million doses to Turkey. It will also provide 40 million doses of bulk vaccine – to immunize the vaccine before it is divided into smaller containers – in Indonesia for local production.
CanSino Biologics, the developer of the coronavirus vaccine with a Chinese military research unit, will bring 35 million doses of its vaccine to Mexico, one of the five countries that are conducting its trials.
China National Biotec Group (CNBG), a subsidiary of state-owned pharmaceutical company China National Pharmaceutical Group (Sinopharm), was less open about its deals. Two vaccine company employees underwent phase 3 tests in ten countries, mainly in the Middle East and South America. In the United Arab Emirates, Dubai governor Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum offered to be vaccinated in the trials and the drug was approved for emergency use. The Emirati company in partnership with Sinopharm hopes to produce between 75 million and 100 million volumes next year.
Sinopharm chairman Liu Jingzhen said last month many countries had asked to buy the company’s drugs. He did not name the countries or specify the number of doses they had proposed, but said CNBG could produce more than one million volumes by 2021.
“China not only has a political will (of its own vaccination processes), and has great potential to make that happen,” Huang said.
Because China was infected with the virus, there is no urgent need to vaccinate all of its 1.4 billion people. “This gives him this … to make deals with countries that need treatment,” he said.
China’s global vaccination campaign is very different from Trump’s “America’s first” administration, which focuses on vaccinating its citizens ahead of those elsewhere.
“So far we have not heard the US say or suggest that they will set a percentage of their vaccine to support poor countries. So that puts China in a better position to use this vaccine to achieve the goal of foreign policy,” Huang said.
In October, China joined a global initiative supported by the World Health Organization to ensure the rapid distribution and equity of Covid-19 vaccines in rich and poor countries alike.
The project, known as COVAX, is designed to discourage governments from collecting coronavirus vaccines and instead focuses on vaccinating dangerous groups in each country. But it has been banned by the United States, in part because President Donald Trump did not want to work with the WHO, leaving an open space for public health leadership in the world for China to fill.
From the beginning, Chinese leaders have repeatedly emphasized that China’s policies are shared, especially with the developing world.
In May, Chinese President Xi Jinping told an annual WHO meeting that China would make its coronavirus vaccine a “public good,” calling it a “national contribution” in ensuring the availability and availability of vaccines in developing countries. “
At a video conference with African leaders in June, Xi promised that “once the construction and distribution of the Covid-19 vaccine in China is completed, African countries will be among the first to benefit.”
In August, Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang said Beijing would also prioritize Cambodia, Myanmar, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam. Other countries promised first access by Chinese officials include Afghanistan and Malaysia.
Many of these countries are also part of the Belt Beelt and Road Initiative, which is the foundation of the infrastructure and commercial system that lost its breath during the epidemic. Recently, Chinese officials broadcast interviews for “Health Silk Road.” At a WHO meeting in May, Xi pledged $ 2 billion over two years to help countries cope with the epidemic. Beijing has also provided $ 1 billion in loans to Latin America and the Caribbean for its coronavirus treatment.
But there are indications that China’s vaccination talks will not always go smoothly. In Brazil, Sinovac’s vaccine, CoronaVac, has been embroiled in a bitter feud between President Jair Bolsonaro – known for his stance on China – and Sao Paulo governor Joao Doria, who is expected to fight Bolsonaro in the country’s next presidential election in 2022. In Bangladesh, Sinovac’s trial has been postponed due to a financial dispute.
International health experts also inquired about China’s emergency use program, which provided nearly one million Chinese people with experimental vaccines before their safety was fully confirmed by clinical trials.
Then there is the question of efficiency. Last month, Pfizer and Moderna announced that preliminary results showed that their vaccines were more than 90%, while another co-produced by Oxford University and AstraZeneca had a power of between 70%. To date, none of the Chinese vaccineers have announced any first-line results, although company executives have repeatedly stressed their safety, insisting that no adverse effects have been observed on vaccinated volunteers.
Storage And Logistics
Compared to Pfizer and Moderna, Chinese vaccines have significant advantages – many of which do not require warm temperatures to maintain, making transportation and distribution much easier, especially in developing countries that do not have the capacity to keep cold.
Kate O’Brien, director of the Department of Vaccines and Vaccines, likens vaccination to building a camp in Everest. “But the upside is about bringing vaccines,” he told a news conference last month.
Both Pfizer and Moderna vaccines use genetic material called messenger RNA (mRNA) to stimulate the body to produce coronavirus-producing cells and stimulate the body’s response – a new technology that has never been used in existing vaccines.
But mRNA is at risk of being reduced to room temperature. The Modern vaccine should be stored at 20 degrees Celsius (-4 degrees Fahrenheit), or at room temperature for up to 30 days, while the Pfizer vaccine should be stored at very low temperatures of 75˚C (-103 ˚F) , and used for five days when frozen at high temperatures.
Sinopharm and Sinovac, meanwhile, are using an older method that has been shown to work on other vaccines, such as polio and flu. Their coronavirus drugs use a completely inactive virus to stimulate the body’s immune system, and they only need to be kept at a standard refrigerator temperature of 2 standardC to 8˚C (36˚F to 46˚F). The CanSino vaccine, which uses a common cold virus called adenovirus 5 to carry coronavirus genes into the body, can be stored at 2˚C to 8˚C.
However, the required temperatures must be maintained throughout the transport, from leaving the production area to the end of the airports and eventually being distributed globally.
Cainiao, the arm of the Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba, will assist in the dissemination of Chinese policies as soon as they can. It says its climate-controlled infrastructure is ready and ready.
The company has partnered with Shenzhen Baoan International Airport, which recently received a medical certificate from the International Air Transport Association. The cold storage depot was built in 2019 for cold food and clothing. Earlier this year, it was modified and stored for coronavirus test kits – and now vaccines. The airport said on its website that it wanted to make Shenzhen “the basis for the delivery of the Covid-19 vaccine worldwide.”
Cainiao is also partnering with Ethiopian Airlines, which will be exporting Chinese vaccines to the Middle East and then Africa. Since the epidemic, the airline has flown more than 3,000 tons of medical supplies from Shenzhen to Europe, Africa, the Middle East and South America.
But Cainiao also wants to add more access routes to the world, according to its CEO Wan Lin.
“Yes, we are not yet sure about the exact demand for this but we are definitely building our capacity to prepare for that,” Wan said.