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China's Xi calls for mutual recognition of COVID-19 vaccines

BEIJING: Chinese President Xi Jinping on Saturday (Oct 30) called for equal treatment and mutual recognition of COVID-19 vaccines based on the World Health Organization's emergency use list, the official Xinhua agency reported.

In his remarks at the 16th Group of 20 (G20) Leaders' Summit, delivered via video link, Xi said China had provided more than 1.6 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccine shots to the world, and was working with 16 nations on the cooperative manufacturing of doses.

"China is willing to work with all parties to improve the accessibility and affordability of COVID-19 vaccines in developing countries," Xinhua quoted Xi as saying.

China has achieved an annual production capacity of 7 billion COVID-19 shots, Xi said.

Xi reiterated China's support of the World Trade Organization (WTO) making an early decision on waiving intellectual property rights for COVID-19 vaccines, and he called for vaccine companies to be encouraged to transfer technology to developing countries.

Two Chinese vaccines, one from Sinovac Biotech and one from Sinopharm, have been included in the emergency use list of the WHO.

RUSSIA'S COMPLAINT

Russia also complained about the lack of international recognition for its Sputnik V vaccine at the G20 summit, where leaders agreed to step up global inoculation efforts.

"Despite the decisions of the G20, not all countries in need can have access to anti-COVID-19 vaccines," Russian President Vladimir Putin said in a video message to counterparts that were retransmitted on Russian state television.

"This happens mainly because of dishonest competition, protectionism and because some states, especially those of the G20, are not ready for mutual recognition of vaccines and vaccination certificates," Putin added.

In an apparent reference to the failure of Russia's Sputnik V to win foreign regulatory approval, Putin urged G20 health ministers to discuss the mutual recognition of vaccines and vaccination certificates "as soon as possible".

Earlier this month, South Africa refused to approve the Russian jab despite the country's dire need for vaccines, claiming it could increase the risk of HIV infection among men.

Sputnik V also lacks regulatory approval in the EU and the US.

Putin and Xi were said to have avoided travelling to Italy due to tightening coronavirus restrictions in their home countries.

70% GLOBAL VACCINATION BY MID-2022

Summit host and Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi said the international community was "very close to meeting the WHO's target of vaccinating 40 per cent of the global population by the end of 2021".

"Now we must do all we can to reach 70 per cent by mid-2022," he added.

According to a source following the summit discussions, "all the leaders" agreed to commit to the target set out by Draghi.

The Italian premier noted that while more than 70 per cent of people in developed countries have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, the percentage drops to around 3 per cent in the poorest parts of the world.

"These differences are morally unacceptable, and undermine the global recovery," he said.

The two-day summit in Rome of G20 leaders - their first meeting in person since the global coronavirus pandemic - also included climate change and threats to the global economic recovery on the agenda.

Their meeting was preceded on Friday by G20 finance and health ministers' discussions, in which they also cited the urgency of meeting the 70 per cent vaccination target by the middle of next year.

To meet the objective, they committed to "take steps to help boost the supply of vaccines and essential medical products and inputs in developing countries and remove relevant supply and financing constraints."

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Source: AGENCIES/ac/jt

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