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Tipsheet

China Pushes Junk Vaccines to Amass Soft Power While Biden Twiddles Thumbs

AP Photo/Los Angeles Times, Jay L. Clendenin, Pool

After years spent years building soft power through infrastructure and other projects, the Chinese Communist Party is now capitalizing on the Wuhan coronavirus pandemic by shipping its ChiCom vaccines around the globe despite anecdotal evidence and data that continues to cast doubt on its efficacy. 

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China's Sinopharm and CoronaVac doses have been shipped to nations including United Arab Emirates, Peru, Chile, Argentina, Bahrain, Jordan, Egypt, Turkey, Brazil, Seychelles, and Indonesia, due in part to an inability to secure doses of the more effective vaccines that have been largely used in the United States, Israel, and elsewhere.

In distributing its vaccines, China gets to portray itself as a hero to the world, despite being initially responsible for unleashing COVID on the world. It's another play to accumulate more soft power and increase its standing as some sort of humanitarian among the nations of the world, despite waging a genocide against religious minorities in its own country. 

Due in part to their development under China's trademark lack of transparency, Chinese COVID vaccines face growing doubts as free nations fret about the soft power boon China is poised to enjoy as a result of their vaccine diplomacy. The main problem is that China's vaccines aren't living up to the hype.

The Chinese-created CoronaVac vaccine is about half as effective as the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines developed in the free world. A report covered by Guy in January of this year showed China's COVID vaccine failed to impress one nation on the receiving end of the CCP's soft power campaign, Brazil:

Scientists in Brazil have downgraded the efficacy of a Chinese coronavirus vaccine that they hailed as a major triumph last week, diminishing hopes for a shot that could be quickly produced and easily distributed to help the developing world...

The implications could be significant for a vaccine that is crucial to China’s global health diplomacy. At least 10 countries have ordered more than 380 million doses of CoronaVac, though regulatory agencies have yet to fully approve it...“Those countries that have ordered the Chinese-made vaccines are probably going to question the usefulness of these vaccines,” said Yanzhong Huang, a senior fellow for global health at the Council on Foreign Relations and an expert on health care in China.

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In addition to the doses purchased from Chinese manufacturers, the CPP gave away more than 13 million doses to developing nations. In Seychelles, an island nation off the coast of Africa that predominantly used China's Sinopharm shot to vaccinate its citizens, a new surge of COVID cases triggered a lockdown. 

A report on the situation unfolding in Seychelles last week showed China and its compatriots at the World Health Organization scrambling to defend Chinese vaccines:

"Seychelles, the world’s most vaccinated nation, has had a surge in cases despite much of its population being inoculated with Sinopharm.

For the 56 countries counting on the Sinopharm shot to help them halt the pandemic, the news is a setback.

For months, public health experts had focused on trying to close the access gap between rich and poorer nations. Now, scientists are warning that developing nations that choose to use the Chinese vaccines, with their relatively weaker efficacy rates, could end up lagging behind countries that choose vaccines made by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna. That gap could allow the pandemic to continue in countries that have fewer resources to fight it.

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A spokeswoman for China’s foreign ministry blamed Western media for trying to discredit Chinese vaccines and “harboring the mentality that ‘everything involving China has to be smeared.’

In a news conference, Kate O’Brien, director of immunizations at the World Health Organization, said the agency is evaluating the surge of infections in Seychelles and called the situation 'complicated.'"

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Of course, China's peddling of shoddy products in its attempts to build favor on the world stage isn't new—junk masks and COVID tests were shipped out by China and intercepted in Europe in the United States earlier on in the world's fight against the Wuhan coronavirus. 

So while China continues its soft power campaign through vaccine diplomacy, what is America's response? As Townhall has covered extensively, the Biden administration is wasting time pursuing what would be a horrible deal facilitated by the World Trade Organization to hand over American vaccine tech to hostile nations, including China. If Biden and his flip-flopping trade representative manage to secure a deal, the United States could find itself as dependent on China for questionable vaccines as the developing world is now when the next Wuhan coronavirus-type plague shows up.

What could be done instead, and what should be done, is sending the much more effective COVID vaccines created by Moderna, Pfizer, and Johnson & Johnson to nations in need. According to an April report, the United States is expected to have 300 million excess doses of COVID vaccines by July. Hundreds of millions of doses that could be quickly dispatched from the United States to developing or in-need nations around the world. The higher efficacy of U.S. vaccines would be preferred by those nations and their citizens, squishing China's attempts to be the hero. And, importantly, it doesn't require a wholesale giveaway of American intellectual property in the process.

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