Access to vaccines against COVID-19 is the health issue at the moment, and it is becoming more acute in developing countries that do not have the means to compete in the international market for the doses produced by companies like Pfizer and Moderna at great cost.
The issue represents an opportunity for China, Russia and India, which are competing over initiatives to distribute their own vaccines to dozens of needy countries while rich countries focus on the needs of their people.
This war of influence through staggered vaccines particularly tops the program of Chinese President Xi Jinping, which he sees as an effective way to advance his geostrategic interests on several continents.
Antoine Bundaz, a China specialist with the Foundation for Strategic Research, notes that Beijing currently has a “great opportunity” in terms of vaccination that it intends to make the most of.
The communist regime, which has been largely successful in stopping the spread of the virus within its borders, is in the offensive as many countries have failed to find the doses and the distribution planned by COVAX has not yet started.
China, which privately owns the vaccines developed by Sinovac and Sinopharm, has announced the free distribution or sale of vaccine doses to more than forty countries spread across Asia, Africa and Latin America.
In particular, the regime wants to send a message, Mr. Bundaz notes, that it is concerned about the conditions of underprivileged countries while the rich countries are projecting themselves as “selfish and irresponsible”.
The fact that the United States has opted for a unilateral approach to research and production under the leadership of Donald Trump and decided to boycott COVAX has made it easier for China, which has now to deal with the change of course announced by the United States. The new American president, Joe Biden.
In recent days, his administration promised to pump an additional $ 4 billion to finance the shipment of vaccine doses to poor countries. Other G7 member states, including Canada, also announced on Friday their intention to increase their contribution to COVAX.
These efforts are testimony to the fact that wealthy countries are concerned about the growing influence of China by distributing vaccines.
Lynette Ong, a China specialist at the University of Toronto, believes the United States “has some catching up”. She cautioned that Beijing’s progress should not be overstated, as it is partly hampered by the uncertainty surrounding the effectiveness of the proposed vaccines.
Beijing must also address the efforts of Russia, which is also seeking to expand its influence by leveraging the context that the COVID-19 pandemic has created.
The Vladimir Putin regime is actively promoting the Sputnik V vaccine, which has an efficacy of over 90%, according to a study recently published in The scalpel. Agreements have so far been concluded with about 20 countries, mainly concentrated in the Southern Hemisphere.
Hungary’s Viktor Orban regime announced its intention to use it, causing a cold with other member states of the European Union who decided to join together to get the benefit vaccines at the best price.
Frederick Miran, who heads the Center for International Studies and Research at the University of Montreal, indicates that Russia is likely to do everything it can to undermine European cohesion. He says that even if the Hungarian decision did not have a significant impact, Moscow considers “that there are no very small gains” in this area.
The situation of the Hungarian system is not the only source of friction on the European continent, because the recorded failures in the delivery of doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine have also led to a lot of heated discussions.
The United Kingdom, which is one of the countries with the most advanced vaccination campaign, is hoping to take advantage of the current situation to show its people that it is well-positioned to function effectively after Brexit.
India, which produces a large amount of the vaccine developed by AstraZeneca through its Serum Institute, is also seeking, through its exports, to record geostrategic gains and in particular to counter the influence of China in Asia.
An Indian foreign ministry spokesman told Reuters in early February that doses had been provided to about 15 countries. Prime Minister Narendra Modi also raised the possibility of helping Canada a few days ago.
Antoine Bundaz points out that the productive capacities in India and China constitute an important geopolitical asset because it gives them the freedom to act abroad without fear of exposure to the remnants of their populations.