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Tuesday, 20 October 2020

How China and Russia are using vaccines to exert soft power

How China and Russia are using vaccines to exert soft power: While in the US and Europe the vaccine dash has been largely driven by the private pharma companies, China and Russia have adopted a state-led approach, giving the government say over development and export decisions. A parallel (and less glamorous) version of the space race, Beijing and Moscow have been scrambling to release a vaccine ahead of their Western rivals, fast-tracking the regulatory process to the consternation of health experts. That headstart could pay dividends, argues the Wall Street Journal (watch, runtime: 06:11), potentially handing the powers political sway, financial leverage, and global prestige as the saviors of the pandemic. China is distributing vaccines to neighboring countries in a bid to make peace over past border disputes while Russia is targeting oil-rich countries in the Middle East to expand its trade and energy links.

Egypt is in line for Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine and is testing China’s vaccine locally: Egypt inked an agreement with Moscow to distribute 25 mn doses of the vaccine through Pharco while a Chinese-developed vaccine is currently in phase three clinical trials in Egypt. Western analysts have raised concerns over the efficacy and safety of both vaccines, but over 50 countries have put in early requests for the shots.

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