For China, winning the vaccine race was never an option.
At least 22 Chinese institutions were pressed into action.
According to some reports, China developed a Wuhan virus vaccine as early as February 2020.
It started clinical trials in March and published results in May 2020.
In China’s view, it was leading the vaccine race.
In reality, not so much.
This is the story of how China tried to cheat in the vaccine race.
Let us first take you through a quick timeline.
In December 2019, China finally reported the Wuhan virus outbreak to the World Health Organization (WHO).
In January 2020, China exported the virus.
On January 13, 2020, the first case of the Wuhan virus was reported outside China.
On March 11 last year, the WHO declared the outbreak a pandemic.
By May, China had successfully brought the world to a standstill.
China’s next plan of action was to fast-track vaccines.
In May 2020, Chinese President Xi Jinping declared that Chinese vaccines will be for the “global public good”.
But our world is smarter than what China perceives it to be and not many countries signed up for Chinese vaccines.
So the dragon began pushing its vaccines by distributing them as donations, especially to low and middle-income countries.
In July 2020, China promised a billion-dollar vaccine loan for Latin American and Caribbean countries.
We don’t know if it was ever delivered.
As of March 2021, here’s where China stands in the vaccine race.
Our world has over 195 sovereign states and only 28 are inoculating its people with Chinese vaccines.
According to local reports, so far, China has administered more than 52 million doses of vaccines at home.
It has committed ten times the amount abroad.
In January, Sinovac reached only half of its daily manufacturing capacity.
The countries that ordered Chinese jabs were disappointed with its delayed deliveries.
Brazil, Turkey have raised concerns.
Did you know China also tried to forcefully innoculate people?
If Brazil was protesting Chinese vaccines, the mood was not too different back home.
In Beijing, health workers were scared to get themselves inoculated.
The South China Morning Post reported that less than 74 per cent of the staff in the Chinese Centre for Disease Control and Prevention in Beijing would get immunised voluntarily.
Chinese companies have not been transparent in announcing the results of phase three trials.
Only CanSino’s vaccine has reportedly conducted trials on people above the age of 60.
There are also questions about the efficacy of Chinese vaccines.
In Brazil, Sinovac’s trials yielded an efficacy rate of just over 50 per cent.
Elsewhere in Turkey, the UAE and Indonesia, the results were inconsistent.
Other than the concerns, there is also competition, from Russia’s Sputnik V to the US’s Moderna vaccine and the made-in-India Astrazeneca jabs to the Pfizer vaccine.
While the Chinese jabs crumble under tough competition, it is the Chinese president whose prestige is being hammered.
Vaccines were his way of projecting China as the global health leader as Xi wanted to demonstrate China’s technological prowess.
The vaccines were his way of boosting China’s influence, generating goodwill, a degree of indebtedness and perhaps even awe.
The world sees through China’s designs so much so that in 2020, Chinese state media Xinhua had to issue a warning in which it was sinister to accuse China of vaccine diplomacy.
Xinhua forgot that as early as March 2020 China itself had given away its sinister plot to the world.
This was when a Chinese press release referred to a Chinese medical shipment as the health silk road.
It didn’t take the world too long to realise that China’s vaccine nationalism is pretty much an extended version of the Belt and Road project.
There is no donation, or development and only danger.
It was debt-trapping of poor countries.
China planned, spent and schemed to win this vaccine race.
And it lost to a country it came second to in Ladakh.
India’s ‘vaccine maitri’ is taking off and so far, its produced jabs have reached 72 countries.
As many as 37 countries have been given vaccines for free and 34 countries have got vaccines under the COVAX alliance, according to the Ministry of External Affairs.
The harsh truth for Xi to swallow is that vaccine was always India’s race.
In 2019, China’s share in the value of unprocured medical products was just 1.9 per cent, while India’s share stood at 21.9 per cent.
Of the 155 WHO-prequalified vaccines, only four were from China and 44 were from India.
India is the world’s pharmacy, the world’s largest producer of vaccines.
It’s not even about the numbers, but about trust too.
India’s ‘vaccine maitri’ is an emblem of leadership and the country’s role in healing the world shows exemplary benevolence.