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China To Get First Foreign Vaccines, Shipment To Come From Germany

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Germany has dispatched its first batch of BioNTech COVID-19 vaccines to China to be administered initially to German expatriates, a German government spokesman said on Wednesday. This would be China’s first Covid vaccine to be delivered from outside.

It is not yet known at what time the delivery would take place and what all the shipment contains, while the spokesman said Germany is willing to share its coronavirus vaccine with foreigners, estimated at about 20,000, apart from its nationals if they ask for it.

The vaccines arrive after China has allowed Germans living in its territory to avail the shot after a deal during Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s visit in China last month, with the German side urging Beijing to allow the shot to be made unrestrictedly open to Chinese citizens as well.

The Chinese government is yet to formally distribute vaccines to the German residents, and the letter, yet to be sent to them, read that the government would give basic immunisations and booster shots of vaccines approved for use in the European Union for free to everyone above 12 years of age.

However, the announcement is only for the German nationals as other nationalities would not be included. Vaccinations for children under 12 would be allowed later.

“We are working on the possibility that besides Germans also other foreigners can be vaccinated with BioNTech,” the spokesperson told journalists in Berlin.

The vaccines are to be sent to German companies in China along with embassy locations. Discussions are going on with other EU governments regarding sending the shots to other European nationalities, a person familiar with the situation said.

China is required to give green signal to growing access beyond German nationals, the source said.

In return, Chinese citizens in Europe would be vaccinated with China’s SinoVac (SVA.O), the German spokesperson said.

The information was confirmed after a report that came early December said that The German health ministry had allowed China’s Sinovac COVID-19 vaccine to be dispatched for Germany for being administered to Chinese citizens in there.

Europe’s drug regulator, The European Medicines Agency (EMA) has not approved China’s Sinovac COVID-19 vaccine but the World Health Organization has given its nod for the vaccine’s use.

China has been adamant about using indigenous vaccines, which have different composition than the Western mRNA technology and are based on traditional techniques.

The shipment occurs as Beijing is removing its strict “zero-COVID” lockdown policy, which has caused an increase in cases that have caught a vulnerable healthcare system off guard.

More than a million COVID deaths could occur in the 1.4 billion-person nation in the upcoming year, according to experts.

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