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China Silent on Why Xi Jinping, Top Leaders Are Yet to Take Covid-19 Vaccine Jabs

A staff member places a coronavirus vaccine candidate from Sinovac Biotech Ltd at its booth for display during the 2020 China International Fair for Trade in Services (CIFTIS), following the COVID-19 outbreak, in Beijing, China September 5, 2020. REUTERS/Tingshu Wang

A staff member places a coronavirus vaccine candidate from Sinovac Biotech Ltd at its booth for display during the 2020 China International Fair for Trade in Services (CIFTIS), following the COVID-19 outbreak, in Beijing, China September 5, 2020. REUTERS/Tingshu Wang

China has launched massive vaccine diplomacy even as it approved only one of its four vaccines, Sinopharm for emergency use.

China on Wednesday boasted that several world leaders have taken its COVID-19 vaccines, but remained silent on why the top Chinese leaders are yet to take the jab. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying in her daily media briefing here named leaders of several countries who have taken one of the two COVID-19 vaccines made in China, publicly reposing their faith in them.

Turkish President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Seychelles President Wavel Ramkalawan, leaders of the UAE, Bahrain, Egypt and Indonesia have been publicly inoculated with Chinese vaccines, she said. China has started the inoculation of the vaccines in key groups. "We will also carry out vaccination for all Chinese citizens for free. All people that meet the conditions should be vaccinated in an orderly manner," she said.

Responding to a query whether top Chinese leaders including President Xi Jinping, Premier Li Keqiang and others have taken the jabs, she said: "As for the specific question you asked, I have no answer at this moment. Vaccine is our silver bullet for epidemic prevention and for our ultimate victory against the virus," she said. China has launched massive vaccine diplomacy even as it approved only one of its four vaccines, Sinopharm for emergency use. Its other vaccines like Sinovac and CoronaVac have made their way abroad and are being used while they are undergoing the trial process.

Back home, China has launched the free vaccination drive for all its 1.4 billion people starting with key groups. Over 10 million people have been inoculated in the country. The ruling Communist Party leadership and the party cadre are yet to get vaccinated. Asked whether the World Health Organisation (WHO) has granted emergency approval for its vaccines and will it distribute them through COVAX, the international vaccine alliance, Hua said, "as I understand the relevant companies are in communication with the WHO. They are also discussing concrete cooperation for being included in the emergency list of the WHO," she said.

"Chinese firms are taking part in COVAX. They expressed readiness to join the COVAX. Hope they can be included in the vaccines reserve list at the early date," she said.

first published:January 20, 2021, 18:30 IST