By Finian Cunningham
March 17, 2021 "Information
Clearing House" - - "Sputnik
News " -
A friend in need is a friend indeed, and several
countries which may have previously sniffed at
vaccines produced by China and Russia are finding
truth in the old adage.
China is ramping up supplies of its CoronaVac to
Brazil and other Latin American countries where
Covid-19 infections are threatening to overwhelm
public health services. Brazil has become a new
global hotspot for deadly variants of the
coronavirus. With nearly 280,000 deaths, the
most populous country in Latin America has the
second-highest global toll after the United
Meanwhile, several European
nations are reportedly in discussions to produce
Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine after a breakthrough
deal last week with Italy – the first member the
European Union – to start local production of
the Russian jab. Germany, France and Spain are
among other EU states considering similar local
manufacturing arrangements for Sputnik V.
The European need is made all the more acute
because of the slow rollout of approved vaccines and
recently the pausing of the AstraZeneca jab by
several nations owing to concerns about potentially
fatal side-effects from blood-clotting.
Here’s the thing. China’s and Russia’s vaccines
have been shown to be effective against Covid-19
symptoms and safe. The jabs are easily mass produced
at an affordable cost compared with Western
counterparts, and both China and Russia have
said they are willing to provide license agreements
for local production which would expedite supply
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China has 17 other vaccines
reportedly undergoing trial. So far, there
appears to be no ill-effects from administering
The global results speak for themselves. Scores
of countries have taken orders for the Chinese and
Russian shots. Beijing has donated vaccines to over
50 low-income nations.
How attitudes have changed. Back in December, a
headline stated: “China’s struggling to get the
world to trust its Covid vaccines”.
Among those expressing disdain previously was the
right-wing Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro who
said humans undergoing trials for the Chinese
vaccine were “guinea pigs” inferring unsafe risks.
Given the crisis that Brazil finds itself in with
soaring Covid-19 infections, which critics put down
to negligent federal government health policies,
Bolsonaro and his cabinet have only been too glad to
avail of millions of doses of vaccine from China. So
much so that the Brazilian president has
scrubbed the earlier antagonistic rhetoric
towards Chinese telecoms giant Huawei which he had
adopted in deference to Washington’s hostile China
policy. Indeed, Huawei is now being considered by
the Brazilian government for 5G modernization of its
telecoms network. No doubt, a sign of gratitude that
China has come to the Covid rescue.
Similarly, Europe was rather sniffy in its
attitude towards Russia’s Sputnik V. European
Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and
European Council chief Charles Michel have
insinuated that China and Russia are motivated
by “propaganda objectives” above medical and public
Sputnik V was the first government-registered
vaccine anywhere in the world as of last August.
Yet it is still awaiting formal approval by the
European Medicines Agency, even though it has been
proven in large-scale trials to be highly effective
and safe to administer among all age groups.
In any case, regardless of official approval in
Brussels, several European countries have gone ahead
with bilateral agreements to order Russian and
Chinese vaccines. They include Hungary, Slovakia and
Czech Republic as well as non-EU state Serbia and
other Balkan nations.
Due to its rapid and rigorous early management of
the pandemic, through quarantine and contact
tracing, China has succeeded in eradicating the
disease. Life among its 1.4 billion
population has returned to pre-pandemic normalcy.
China’s death toll stands at around 4,600 – less
than that of the United States or Europe by a factor
of more than 100-fold.
says it wants to rebuild the global economy from
renewed emphasis on trade, investment and
cooperative partnerships as part of its Belt and
Road Initiative of new silk routes. An essential
part of realizing that vision requires defeating the
Covid-19 pandemic collectively in every region of
China and Russia’s outlook contrasts with the “vaccine
nationalism” of the United States and Europe
which has seen these regions hoard millions of
surplus or unused doses. Both China and Russia know
that the only way for the planet to recover from
this once-in-a-century pandemic is for all nations
to unite in solidarity and to share scientific
achievements. Public health before private profit is
In this situation, a Cold War mentality
of viewing others as enemies is an odious obstacle
to progress. It’s a vile, futile plaything
of ideological elites. It is becoming clear that
nations, media and politicians who are infected with
such a political virus are an anachronism. Common
human need is driving international relations of
solidarity. Cynics in the West may begrudge China
and Russia reaping the success of “vaccine
diplomacy”. Others will view it more generously
as those two nations showing responsible and ethical
leadership to pull humanity out of a global crisis
for the greater good.
Finian Cunningham has written
extensively on international affairs, with
articles published in several languages. He is a
Master’s graduate in Agricultural Chemistry and
worked as a scientific editor for the Royal
Society of Chemistry, Cambridge, England, before
pursuing a career in newspaper journalism. He is
also a musician and songwriter. For nearly 20
years, he worked as an editor and writer in
major news media organisations, including The
Mirror, Irish Times and Independent.
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