Chinese President Xi Jinping has said that China will send one billion Covid-19 vaccines to Africa.
The pledge closely follows a September revelation by the premier that China would donate 100 million vaccine doses to developing nations before 2022.
It also follows data released by China’s National Health Commission on Monday showing the total number of jabs administered in the country had hit 2.49 billion.
China has indicated that it has produced over half of all the Covid-19 vaccines manufactured globally.
It has therefore vowed to donate 600 million doses of vaccine to Africa directly, whereas the remaining 400 million jabs will come from other sources but under China.
The statement was said by President Xi in a speech to the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation, adding that China would encourage its companies to invest no less than $10 billion in Africa over the next three years.
According to Reuters, the Monday vow aims at intensifying competition between China and the United States over which superpower will play the biggest leadership role in halting the pandemic.
In September this year, US President Joe Biden also announced that America was doubling its purchase of Pfizer’s Covid-19 shots to share with the world to 1billion doses, as he publicly embraced the goal of vaccinating 70 per cent of the global population in a year’s time.
The fresh vow comes as alarm over the discovery of the new Omicron variant detected and announced in South Africa is growing internationally.
The World Health Organization has classified the variant as ‘one of concern’ amid fears that it could be deadlier than other virus strains.
If China were to deliver on the vow to provide one billion jabs for Africa, it would give a significant boost for a continent which has so far managed to vaccinate just about 10 per cent of its population.
So far North America and Europe have vaccinated about 64 and 62 per cent of its population respectively.