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China Joins Global Vaccine Initiative

China has joined the World Health Organization-led effort to distribute SARS-CoV-2 vaccines, NPR reports.

The initiative, called the COVAX Global Vaccines Facility, aims to enable rapid and equitable access to approved SARS-CoV-2 vaccines and in particular plans to deliver about 2 billion vaccine doses around the world by the end of 2021. More than 150 countries have signed onto the effort, including the member states of the European Union, but the US has declined to join the initiative as it involves the WHO. President Donald Trump has criticized the international health agency's response to COVID-19 and has begun the process of withdrawing the US from the WHO.

China initially declined to join COVAX, but now has, as NPR reports. "This is an important step China has taken to uphold the concept of a shared community of health for all and to honor its commitment to turn COVID-19 vaccines into a global public good," Hua Chunying, a spokesperson for the Chinese foreign ministry, said during a news briefing, according to NPR.

The Wall Street Journal adds that China has committed to buying 15 million vaccine doses through the program, providing needed funding to the program. Many wealthy nations, including European Union, US, UK, and Switzerland, have made deals on their own with vaccine makers.