China says will purchase COVAX vaccines for 1% of population

FILE PHOTO: Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying attends a news conference in Beijing, China July 17, 2020. REUTERS/Tingshu Wang

BEIJING (Reuters) - China will purchase COVID-19 vaccines for 1% of its population, or 15 million people, via a global scheme backed by the World Health Organization, the Foreign Ministry said on Friday.

Beijing’s move to join the COVAX programme means China “will be procuring vaccines through the facility for a proportion of their own population, just as with other countries”, a spokesman for GAVI, which co-leads the scheme, said earlier.

The first batch of vaccine available under the plan will be in short supply, so there would be less for other countries if China had secured doses for a large number of its 1.4 billion people, ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told a news briefing.

China has at least four experimental vaccines in final stages of clinical trials, and is also in talks with the WHO to have its domestically made vaccines assessed for international use.

Self-financing countries in COVAX scheme can request vaccine doses sufficient for 10-50% of their populations, GAVI said on its website.

Funded countries will receive enough doses to vaccinate up to 20% of their population in the longer term, GAVI said.

Reporting by Gabriel Crossley and Roxanne Liu; Editing by Edmund Blair and Kim Coghill