US offers to send Covid vaccines to China

Secretary of State Antony Blinken says Beijing should share more information about its Covid outbreak

Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Thursday. Getty / AFP
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Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Thursday offered to share American Covid-19 vaccines with China and called on Beijing to share information about its outbreak that has hospitals inundated across the country.

"We want to see China get this outbreak under control," Mr Blinken said at his end-of-year briefing in the State Department.

"It is very important for all countries, including China, to focus on people getting vaccinated, making testing and treatment available and, importantly, sharing information with the world about what they're experiencing.

"It has implications not just for China, but for the entire world. So we would like to see that happen."

Mr Blinken said that China, which the US considers its top competitor, has not requested any help as it tackles a rise in cases of a new sub-variant of the Omicron strain of Covid-19.

"We're the largest donor of vaccines," Mr Blinken said. "As you know, we're prepared to continue to support people around the world, including in China, with [vaccines] and with other Covid-related health support.

"China's not asked to date for that help."

The surge in cases comes just weeks after Beijing abandoned its tough, “zero-Covid” strategy of mass lockdowns. The restrictions led many Chinese to take to the streets in rare protests.

Contributing to the caseload is a low overall vaccination rate and China's use of domestically developed vaccines that health experts say are not as effective as US medications.

"We're fully prepared to provide assistance to anyone who asks for it, if they think it's useful," said Mr Blinken, who will visit Beijing early next year.

"Any time the virus is spreading or is moving around, there is the possibility that a new variant develops, that variant spreads even further, and it comes and hits us or hits other countries."

He said such a scenario would affect the global economy.

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Updated: December 22, 2022, 8:33 PM