China and the UAE share a belief that vaccines should be a public good

At a critical moment, the UAE worked with China on the world's first Phase 3 trials for an inactivated Covid-19 vaccine

A Sikh healthcare worker holds a box of China's Sinopharm COVID-19 vaccine during vaccination at the Guru Nanak Darbar Gurudwara (Sikh temple) in Dubai on February 28, 2021.  / AFP / Karim SAHIB

2020 was an extraordinary year in human history. The sudden outbreak of Covid-19 broke into our peaceful lives, changed the way the world looks and impacted human civilisation in a profound way. Committed to fighting against the major pandemic, numerous scientists and researchers have been working relentlessly to develop vaccines, the ultimate weapons to prevail against the virus.

China was among the first countries to conduct vaccine research and development, as well as clinical trials. But due to the significant drop in case numbers in China, it was no longer suitable for Phase 3 clinical trials. At that critical moment, the UAE co-operated with China in the world’s first Phase 3 clinical trials for an inactivated vaccine, in which 37,000 volunteers from 125 countries participated.

The UAE is also one of the first countries to approve the Chinese vaccine’s emergency use and official registration. With the rollout of national vaccination programme, more and more people in the UAE have received the Chinese vaccine, casting a “vote of confidence” in its safety and effectiveness. By helping each other out through difficult times like siblings, China and the UAE continue to deepen their comprehensive strategic partnership through vaccine co-operation.

Health care worker prepares a dose of China's Sinovac Biotech vaccine for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), during a mass vaccination program for vendors and workers at a shopping mall in Tangerang, on the outskirts of Jakarta, Indonesia, March 1, 2021. REUTERS/Ajeng Dinar Ulfiana

The Chinese value friendship dearly. A Chinese poem from 2,500 years ago wrote: “You give me a melon, and I shall give you a fine jade. It is not to return the favour, but to foster a lasting friendship.”

Although China’s vaccine production capacity is still insufficient, the Chinese government has provided millions of doses to the UAE in full support of the UAE’s national vaccination campaign. At present, more than 6 million doses have been administered in the UAE, with a rate of vaccine distribution of nearly 61 doses per 100 people, leading the world.

China attaches great importance to the UAE’s urgent need, and the UAE takes one of the largest shares of China’s vaccine exports, which is not only a vivid manifestation of our sincere friendship, but also a concrete measure to implement the important consensus reached by our two governments. China will continue to support the UAE’s nationwide vaccination drive, and hopes the UAE will wipe out the virus quickly and resume economic and educational activities fully soon.

The virus knows no borders, and humankind shares a common destiny. As the most powerful weapon against Covid-19, vaccines should never become a luxury good, enjoyed exclusively by a minority of countries, but rather a public good shared by the entire human species. Chinese and Emirati leaders have a high degree of consensus on this matter. China’s president, Xi Jinping, has solemnly pledged to make Chinese vaccines a global public good that contributes to vaccine accessibility and affordability in developing countries. Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, has also called for treatments and vaccines to be provided to everyone, without exception, out of a belief in the unity of human destiny.

China has also joined and supported WHO’s vaccine-sharing scheme, Covax, and provided 10m doses of Chinese-made vaccines to meet the urgent demand of developing countries. China has given vaccine assistance to 53 developing countries thus far, and exported vaccine doses to 22 countries. In the meantime, China supports and assists others in manufacturing vaccine products domestically, in a bid to boost global production capacity.

Rear view of businesswoman looking at stock exchange market display screen board in downtown financial district. Getty Images
China will continue to support the UAE's nationwide vaccination drive

The UAE, for its part, has announced the establishment of a global vaccine logistics hub to distribute vaccines to other countries and regions via its advanced air cargo network. The goal is to help the WHO distribute at least 2 billion doses by the end of 2021. Despite the natural pressures for prevention and control at home, China and the UAE are both doing what they can to provide assistance to the international community, making great contributions to building a community of shared future for humanity.

The Arab poet Khalil Gibran said: “The afflictions that we bear shall be to us a crown of honour.” It is our belief that in 2021, our species will prevail over the pandemic, and jointly embrace a new era.

This year, the UAE will celebrate its 50th anniversary and Dubai will host a grand World Expo; the Chinese people will also celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Chinese Communist Party. China will work with the UAE to earnestly implement the important consensus reached by our leaderships, deepen our co-operation in health care, reignite the economy and people’s livelihoods and better synergise our development strategies. We will strive together for more fruitful outcomes to substantiate further the China-UAE partnership and make greater contributions to building a healthy community and shared future for our planet.

Ni Jian is the Chinese Ambassador to the UAE