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China is trying to reshape its pharmaceutical industry and take on an unprecedented role as a major vaccine supplier to the rest of the world in light of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.

It aims to produce enough doses to vaccinate 70 per cent of the country’s population, or 980 million people, and the same amount for export by the end of the year, according to Feng Duojia, president of China Association for Vaccines.

Analysts said extensive supplies of Chinese vaccines will make a difference to middle and low-income countries, which would rather have the Chinese vaccines than nothing, even if they have a lower efficacy rate than some Western-made vaccines.

“Many poor countries see little likelihood of accessing the vaccines already being distributed in wealthier nations like the United States and in the European Union. China’s outreach has made their vaccines popular even if their efficacy is lower,” said Daniel Aldrich, a professor of political science, public policy and urban affairs with Northeastern University.

He believes the unequal distribution of vaccines will persist even after affluent countries have inoculated enough of their population to establish an immunity barrier.

“China’s vaccines will still be sought after even as additional vaccines become available. There is a strong imbalance between wealthy and poorer countries and developing nations will continue to look to China for assistance, especially in areas like Southeast Asia,” Aldrich said.

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