by Martina Fuchs
GENEVA, Feb. 23 (Xinhua) -- China's vaccines have been making a crucial contribution to global COVID-19 response, as doses destined for other countries are making a difference, said Rasmus Bech Hansen, head of British research firm Airfinity, on Tuesday.
Hansen, founder and chief executive of London-based Airfinity, told Xinhua in an online interview that China's role in the production and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines has been significant.
"Because the pandemic is under control in China, there is less pressure to keep the vaccines domestically. China is also scaling up production really fast," he said.
Developing countries have been struggling in the vaccine rollout due to their limited capacity to store supplies at ultra-low temperatures, and one advantage of the Chinese vaccines is that they require less cold storage, Hansen said.
"They are easier to distribute, easier to contain. Especially for middle and low income countries they play a significant role and I would expect that going forward," he said.
China has pledged to continue to provide COVID-19 vaccines to other countries, especially the developing ones, and reiterated its commitment to making them a global public good.
However, Hansen stressed that there is still an enormous mismatch between supply and demand and that production needs to be scaled up at a fast pace around the world.
"The bottleneck is really production. There are a few large producers, China being one, India being another, the U.S., some in Europe, but really what the world needs is an ability to produce at scale more broadly," the chief executive said.
"We basically need many more vaccines that are available. Any vaccine out there is a good thing and helps solve the world's problem."
China has supported its companies in conducting joint research and production of vaccines with foreign partners and already exported its Sinopharm and Sinovac vaccines to countries including the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Morocco, Turkey and Chile.
China signed an agreement with Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, officially joining COVAX in early October, a global initiative working with governments and manufacturers to ensure COVID-19 vaccines are available worldwide to both higher-income and lower-income countries.
"On COVAX, China has candidates that are taking part in COVAX and I would also expect China full-blown to go in as part of the COVAX deliverable and play an important role and I think the signs we have seen so far from China with a significant amount of exports point in the right direction," Hansen said. Enditem