FILE PHOTO; Chinese COVID-19 vaccines

A total of 60,000 volunteers have received Chinese COVID-19 vaccines during phase-3 clinical trials, and no severe side effects have been reported, a Chinese official said on Tuesday.

Four Chinese vaccine candidates have entered international phase-3 clinical trials.

They are so far progressing well and have initially proven safe, said Tian Baoguo with the Ministry of Science and Technology at a news conference in Beijing.

Also, China has signed up to a deal to ensure future COVID-19 vaccines are distributed to developing countries, the biggest economy yet to join the World Health Organisation-led bid to control the pandemic.

The COVAX pledge to get vaccines to poorer nations as soon as they are developed aims to head off fears rich countries will limit distribution of game-changing medicines made by their pharmaceutical companies.

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China joined COVAX to “honour its commitment to turn COVID-19 vaccines into a global public good,” foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said.

She gave no details on how much money China would commit to the deal, which has a fundraising goal of 2 billion dollars and aims to provide 92 low and middle-income countries with a future vaccine.

Chinese vaccines “will be provided to developing countries as a priority”, Hua said, adding Beijing hopes “more capable countries will also join and support COVAX”.

Hundreds of thousands of Chinese soldiers, emergency staff and overseas workers have already been injected with vaccines – although the leading contenders are yet to complete clinical trials.

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Beijing is facing a storm of foreign criticism over its early handling of the pandemic and has been trying to reframe perceptions of its role in Covid-19, which emerged in the central Chinese city of Wuhan.

China has paraded its success in controlling the pandemic inside its borders.

The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases worldwide has surpassed 40 million, the latest figures from the World Health Organisation (WHO) showed.

WHO Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) Dashboard showed that globally, as of 11:47 a.m. CEST Tuesday, there have been 40,114,293 confirmed cases of COVID-19, including 1,114,692 deaths, reported to WHO.