CHINA has pledged that as soon as its scientists discover a coronavirus vaccine it will be made available to all African countries free of charge as part of its commitment to help the continent recover from the debilitating economic impact of the pandemic.
In November last year, Covid-19 broke out in China’s Wuhan Province and has since spread all over the world, forcing an economic shutdown, that has hit most countries hard. Worldwide, 8.63m people have been affected by the virus, leading to 457,785 deaths and although Africa has been spared the worst of the pandemic, it has been hit hard economically by its after-effects.
Most African nations are reliant on the export of primary products for the survival and with the collapse in both prices and demand, they have been left without any source of revenue. Over the last few months, the World Bank and International Monetary Fund have had to step in with loans to allow most African nations fund their 2020 budgets.
China is leading the race to develop a Covid-19 vaccine and its scientists are largely pinning their hopes on a technology that has been used for decades. Five out of 10 potential vaccines undergoing clinical trials have been developed by Chinese scientists, while a sixth is the result of a partnership between a Chinese company and a German biotech firm, according to the World Health Organisation
Chinese President Xi Jinping, said: “We gathered with our new and old friends through video to discuss anti-epidemic cooperation and cement the China-Africa brotherhood. We are making good on our promises at the earlier Beijing summit with concrete efforts, as well as contributing to the global anti-epidemic cooperation.
“We believe that humans will defeat the epidemic ultimately and Chinese and African people will definitely live a better life.” He added that China would push the Group of 20 to slow down debt repayment for African nations and that China’s construction of a new Africa Center of Disease Control headquarters would start ahead of schedule this year.
Since the outbreak of the pandemic, China has sent 30m testing kits, 10,000 ventilators 80m facemasks monthly to Africa. In addition Chinese teams of experts have been sent to the continent to help nations fight the virus.