Chinese leaders have repeatedly stated that China will make its COVID-19 vaccine a global public good. More recently they declared that China is indeed fulfilling this pledge by exporting and donating its COVID-19 vaccines to countries around the world. China’s export and donation of its vaccines to other countries have generated a great deal of interest and discussion around the world. Our research offers a comprehensive picture of China’s vaccine outreach and will hopefully enable more informed discussions on this issue around the world.
China’s Vaccines Around the World
This interactive map tracks the vaccine sales and donations China and Chinese vaccine developers have made as well as the number of vaccines delivered by China.
China’s Vaccines Across Regions
As part of the South-South Cooperation, China pledged in late February to provide COVID-19 vaccines to 19 African countries. To date, China has pledged vaccines through either sales or donations to 27 African countries. Over the past month, the pace of these agreements has picked up; however, the total number of vaccines delivered to Africa by China has remained lowest. Overall, China’s vaccine outreach in Africa appears to be rather slow.
Recently, Sinovac Biotech donated 50,000 vaccine doses to the South American Football Confederation for South American countries’ national football teams to use ahead of the South American Football Championship (also known as Copa America), one of the largest and most watched sporting events in South America and the world. This donation has drawn mixed reception around the world as Sinovac came under international scrutiny over doubts about its efficacy. On April 11, Brazil’s Butantan Institute, which has tested and is now producing the Sinovac vaccine in Brazil, announced a 50.7% efficacy rate for the Sinovac vaccine against the infectious new homegrown variant known as P1, and a less widespread strain known as P2. In addition, the University of Chile published a report that announced a 56.5% efficacy rate for the same vaccine. In response to these doubts, Chilean authorities backed the country’s widespread use of the Sinovac vaccine, having largely relied on the Sinovac vaccine, along with smaller numbers of Pfizer’s equivalent drug, to roll out one of the world’s fastest vaccination campaigns.
Sinovac Biotech still remains the main supplier for vaccine sales by China, though it has only supplied to 24 countries in total. China’s major deals with Indonesia, Brazil and Chile, where manufacturing plants are also being set up, have been supported by Sinovac. Its total vaccine sales stands at 456 million doses to date. It is also worth noting that Sinovac conducted trials in Indonesia, Brazil, and Chile, and these three countries purchased 125 million, 132 million, and 60 million doses of Sinovac’s vaccines respectively after the vaccine was proven safe and effective.
China’s Vaccines by Manufacturers
Recently, Sinovac Biotech donated 50,000 vaccine doses to CONMEBOL, which drew much media attention worldwide, but it has also come under international scrutiny over doubts about its efficacy. On April 11, 2021, the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention acknowledged concerns over the effectiveness of homegrown jabs, with Gao Fu, head of the CDC, announcing that the agency was “considering how to solve the problem that the efficacy of existing vaccines is not high”. Following this, Brazil’s Butantan Institute, which has tested and is now producing the Sinovac vaccine, announced a 50.7% efficacy rate for the Sinovac vaccine against the infectious new homegrown variant known as P1 , and a less widespread strain known as P2. In addition, the University of Chile published a report that announced a 56.5% efficacy rate for the same vaccine. In response to these doubts, Chilean authorities backed the country’s widespread use of the Sinovac vaccine, having largely relied on the Sinovac vaccine, along with smaller numbers of Pfizer’s equivalent drug, to roll out one of the world’s fastest vaccination campaigns.
Sinovac Biotech still remains the main supplier for vaccine sales by China, though it has only supplied to 23 countries in total. China’s major deals with Indonesia, Brazil and Chile, where manufacturing plants are also being set up, have been supported by Sinovac. Its total vaccine sales stands at 456 million doses to date. It is also worth noting that Sinovac conducted trials in Indonesia, Brazil, and Chile, and these three countries purchased 125 million, 132 million, and 60 million doses of Sinovac’s vaccines respectively after the vaccine was proven safe and effective.
On the other hand, Sinopharm has been the main supplier for vaccine donations from China, having supplied vaccines to a total of 54 countries. Total vaccine donations from China stands much lower at 15 million doses, compared to China’s total vaccine sales at 639 million doses. Countries that purchased vaccines from China appear to prefer Sinovac’s vaccines, while China appears to prefer donating vaccines from Sinopharm. Sinopharm conducted its trial in countries including the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, and Morocco, which only purchased 18 million, 40 million, and 10 million doses of Sinopharm’s vaccine respectively. Clinical trial locations appear to have a significant impact on vaccine orders.
China’s multilateral Vaccine Contributions
Recent announcements of China’s vaccine donations to the United Nations Peacekeepers and the International Olympic Committee have shed light on the country’s provision of multilateral vaccine assistance. Chinese leaders have repeatedly emphasized that China uploads multilateralism and wants to promote multilateral cooperation in the global response to COVID-19. Nevertheless, the vast majority of vaccines donated and exported by China so far have gone through bilateral channels. China did commit 10 million doses of its COVID-19 vaccines to the COVAX Facility, and numerous Chinese vaccine developers have announced their intentions to supply their vaccines to COVAX. China sending its vaccines to other countries is indeed encouraging, but in order to make the Chinese COVID-19 vaccine a global public good and promote multilateralism, China should increase its participation in vital multilateral mechanisms such as COVAX and the United Nations.
Overseas Manufacturers of Chinese Vaccines
Pakistan, Egypt and the UAE is the latest addition to a growing list of overseas manufacturing destinations of Chinese vaccines. As Chinese vaccine developers help their international partners set up more production capacity, they need to make sure the fast expansion of their partners’ vaccine production capacity would not impact the quality of vaccines produced. So far, all overseas manufacturing facilities of Chinese vaccines use or plan to uses active ingredients or vaccines in bulk imported from China, which means these overseas facilities will only fill the vials and package the vaccines.
Many developing countries want to produce more COVID-19 vaccines for their population themselves. More than 100 countries, mostly developing countries, have asked the World Trade Organization members to agree to a time-limited lifting of COVID-19-related intellectual-property rights so more countries can produce vaccines for their own population. On the other hand, some countries argue such measures may not speed up manufacturing or supply and it would take more than a year to set up new production capacity even if patents did not apply. Experts have also advocated for COVID-19 vaccine developers to increase the licensing of their vaccines, which would allow vaccines to be made by many manufacturers around the world. It is encouraging to see these efforts from Chinese COVID-19 vaccine developers to help their partners in developing countries to build up vaccine production capacity. Whether Chinese vaccine developers will consider patent reprieve for their COVID-19 vaccines remains a question.
- Egypt. Egypt hopes to be the center of vaccine manufacturing for local use and export to African countries.
- Indonesia. Indonesia has received 53.5M doses of vaccine in bulk as of March 25, 2021, and Bio Farma is aiming for producing 154 million doses before the end of the year.
- Malaysia. Pharmaniaga Bhd has an agreement with China’s Sinovac to purchase 14 million doses of ready-to-fill COVID-19 vaccines and to manufacture the vaccine in Malaysia.
- United Arab Emirates. The new plant in the UAE, which is being built in the Khalifa Industrial Zone of Abu Dhabi (KIZAD), will have a production capacity of 200 million doses a year with three filling lines and five automated packaging lines, a statement from the joint venture said on Monday. Vaccine manufactured in UAE will be called Hayat-Vax.
- Serbia. The factory in Serbia will be constructed by Chinese and UAE companies, whereas Serbia will contribute the land.
- Brazil. The state-run Butantan Institute led mass clinical testing of the Sinovac vaccine in Brazil and is now filling and finishing Sinovac vaccines in Brazil, with plans for 100% domestic production in early 2022. As of March 16, 2021, Brazil’s government has received 20.6 million doses of the Sinovac vaccine, bottled by São Paulo’s Butantan Institute with active ingredients from Sinovac in China. The Brazilian state of São Paulo has begun building a facility to produce 100 million doses a year of China’s Sinovac COVID-19 vaccine, which will be ready by September 2021.
- Mexico. CanSino exports active ingredient for its vaccines to Mexico, which is then packaged in Mexico by Drugmex, CanSino said in a statement. CanSino stated that it expects to produce 6.9 million doses between March and June 2021, and then make 1.2 million shots available per week to fulfill its agreement for 35 million doses this year.
- Pakistan. Pakistan plans to produce the COVID-19 vaccine developed by China’s CanSino Biologics locally. Local media reported that “Beijing has agreed to transfer the technology for the vaccine” and “the bulk vaccine received will be formulated, sterilized, and packed in Pakistan.”
Procurements from multiple manufacturers:
- Indonesia has received 54M out of 125M purchased Sinovac doses, and none out of 15M purchased Sinopharm doses.
- Pakistan has received 2M out of 2.5M purchased and donated Sinopharm doses, and 60,000 purchased CanSino doses.
- Georgia has received 100,000 out of 200,000 donated Sinovac doses, and 100,000 purchased Sinopharm doses.
- Cambodia has received 1.3M out of 1.7M donated Sinopharm doses, and 1.5M out of 5.5M purchased Sinovac doses.
- Dominican Republic has received 1.8M purchased Sinovac doses, and 50,000 donated Sinopharm doses.
- Chile has received 12M out of 60M purchased Sinovac doses, and none out of 1.8M purchased CanSino doses.
- Mexico has received 5M out of 35M purchased CanSino doses, 4M out of 20M purchased Sinovac doses, and none out of 12M purchased Sinopharm doses.
- Some of the vaccine procured by Brazil, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Mexico will be produced locally from active ingredients delivered by China.
- The Chinese military has also donated vaccines to the military in Cambodia, Congo Republic, Mongolia, Pakistan, the Philippines, Sudan and Tunisia; the quantities are included in the reported data above.
- China pledged 0.4M doses to Afghanistan, but it is unknown as to whether they were purchased or donated.
- Turkmenistan received shipments of COVID-19 vaccines from China, but quantities were undisclosed.
- The UAE has donated vaccines to Seychelles.
- Turkey has donated 150,000 vaccine doses to Libya.
- Chile has donated 20,000 vaccine doses each to Ecuador and Paraguay.
- Azerbaijan has purchased 4M vaccine doses from Turkey, which arrived in January. It has purchased another 5M doses directly from China.
- It is unclear through which channel Jordan has been receiving the Sinopharm vaccine; the government has received undisclosed quantities of the Sinopharm vaccine from the UAE.
Updated as of 12:00 pm (GMT+8), April 16, 2021.