The chief executive of the world’s newest vaccine maker says China needs to look beyond political considerations to consider importing a Covid-19 vaccine to end the global pandemic.
“They need to open up health care and vaccines to the West and put aside any political issues or things that stand in their way,” Serum Institute of India CEO Adar Poonawalla told CNBC’s Joumanna Bercetche at the World Economic Forum in Davos.
China has experienced a massive spike in Covid-19 cases and deaths after abruptly ending its zero-Covid policy, which imposed strict lockdowns, mass testing and quarantine upon arrival in the country.
According to the World Health Organization, China’s COVID-19 vaccination rate is close to 87%, suggesting that 54% of the population has also received a booster shot.
The main Covid vaccines approved for use in China are from Sinovac and Sinopharm. Several studies have found that these vaccines are less effective against the Omicron variant than other mRNA vaccines such as those from Pfizer and BioNTech.
Poonawalla said China’s response to the pandemic in 2020 — including building hospitals and infrastructure and taking precautionary measures — showed Beijing could respond quickly.
He emphasized that China’s decision not to import vaccines from the United States, India and elsewhere was “very effective.”
“I think they might have to seriously consider doing that now, at least as a booster, and getting a vaccine that has been proven with real-world data and effectiveness,” he told CNBC. “Otherwise the other option is, a lot of people in China Will continue to get infected and we just hope — we wish them the best of luck as they work through this crisis and get out of it as quickly as possible.”
It is also a global issue, he added, given the number of people who want to travel to China for business or leisure, as well as the number of Chinese citizens traveling abroad.
“We really need to end pandemics and infections in every country because we all need to be safe,” Poonawalla said.
“they are [China] They are still deciding which way to go and I hope this ends soon. “
The Serum Institute of India in Pune produces more than 1.5 billion doses of vaccines for various diseases every year. Poonawalla said the company is interested in supplying a vaccine to China, but discussions with Beijing officials have so far been unsuccessful.
CNBC has reached out to Chinese government representatives for comment.