06:47 GMT04 July 2020
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    China does not subscribe to the same COVID-19 vaccine nationalism that the US does and will treat the eventual vaccine as a public good rather than a commodity to generate profit, Ian Goodrum, a writer and digital editor for China Daily, told Radio Sputnik’s Loud & Clear.

    “It’s interesting, this kind of idea of vaccine nationalism is really an invention of the US government and the US press,” Goodrum told host Brian Becker, adding that in China, vaccine development is “treated as a public good."

    “That was the word, that was the phrase used by Xi Jinping, the president of China, in his speech to the World Health Assembly last week. So, this was the broadest possible stage to make this kind of announcement, and it was a sentiment that was reflected today,” Goodrum told Brian Becker.

    “The National People’s Congress, the highest legislature in China, just concluded its annual session. It was a truncated session for obvious reasons … as is typical, after that session, [the] premier of the country will give an extended press conference, and so this was about a two-hour press conference that took place after the session. And Premier Li Keqiang reiterated again that whatever vaccines, whatever treatments, whatever the best way is to conquer this virus [will be shared with the rest of the world],” Goodrum noted.

    “To be honest, it’s really just an American phenomenon, treating this as a race to the finish line,” Goodrum added.

    The Wall Street Journal on Wednesday published an article titled “‘Vaccine Nationalism’: A New Dynamic in the Race to Quash Coronavirus.” The piece referred to the process of finding a COVID-19 vaccine as a “high-stakes geopolitical scramble” that could result in “vaccine nationalism.” However, according to Goodrum, China doesn’t view finding a vaccine for the respiratory illness as a competition.

    Rather, China views the vaccine development as a “broad-based cooperative effort among the countries of the world” and values making the vaccine accessible to everyone for free, Goodrum said. 

    While public research is shrinking at a rapid rate in the US, it is still very important in China, Goodrum noted.

    “There is a very large amount of public integration with the amount of what would be considered public goods … it’s true there is still public research in the US, but it is shrinking at a very alarming rate, the amount of public funding that is provided for these essential services and essential goods. The research and development is being further and further placed into private hands, or if there is public research being done, private companies then reap the rewards, sell the product, make the profit,” he said.

    “Certainly, there are pharmaceutical concerns in China, but there is a concerted integration between public institutions and what would be considered private enterprises, so to the point where not only where is the research being done by public institutions but for essential goods,” Goodrum said, also noting that there are price controls and subsidies for medications in China to ensure they are affordable.

    Currently, there are many countries involved in COVID-19 vaccine development. American biotech company Moderna, which is collaborating with the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases led by Dr. Anthony Fauci, has been given the green light to begin phase two testing of its vaccine, mRNA-1273. Several other companies and organizations are testing vaccines too, including Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech, as well as the University of Oxford in cooperation with AstraZeneca. 

    Five vaccines developed by Chinese scientists are also undergoing human testing. China’s vaccine development has been a concerted effort between health authorities, research institutes, drug regulators and other local companies. 

    Most recently, a study published on May 22 in The Lancet journal found that the vaccine produced by Chinese company CanSino produced a rapid immune response to the coronavirus in 108 individuals.

    The views and opinions expressed in the article do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

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