The World Health Organization (WHO) is expected to ship 100 million doses of the Sinovac and Sinopharm Covid-19 shots by the end of September mostly to Africa and Asia under its pandemic programme.
According to a report by Reuters, this will be WHO’s first delivery of Chinese vaccines.
The WHO document which contained the announcement noted that out of the 100 million Covid-19 doses, half will be provided by Sinopharm and half by Sinovac.
The Chinese shipments will help the global Covax vaccine sharing programme which is far behind its pledge to deliver two billion doses this year due to supply problems and export curbs imposed by major producer India.
The plan is also expected to boost Beijing’s vaccine diplomacy efforts despite concerns over the efficacy of the Chinese shots, which have been turned down or paired with boosters from Western manufacturers by some of the recipient countries.
A spokesperson for the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization (GAVI), which co-leads COVAX along with the WHO, said about 10 million Sinopharm shots have been shipped in August 2021.
The Chinese vaccines have been allocated to 60 countries, mostly in Africa, which is expected to receive a third of the 100 million doses.
Meanwhile, the WHO is monitoring a new coronavirus variant called “mu”.
It has mutations that have the potential to evade immunity provided by a previous Covid-19 infection or vaccination, the international health organization said.
The new variant was first identified in Colombia but has since been confirmed in at least 39 countries, according to the agency.
Mu was added to the WHO’s list of variants “of interest” on August 30, 2021.