WHO to start buying vaccines from China, angering Biden

AP Photo/Ng Han Guan

COVAX is the program started by the World Health Organization to distribute COVID vaccines around the world, particularly to less-developed nations. An announcement this week from the WHO has unsettled people inside of the Biden administration, however. COVAX is going to begin purchasing tens of millions of doses of vaccine from China, despite being told by the White House that this wasn’t a good idea. There have been plenty of issues raised about the vaccines developed by Sinovac and Sinopharm, but there are clearly geopolitical forces in play here as well. Also, China will be charging the WHO for the vaccines after the United States donated 80 million doses to them last month for free. But as I’m sure you know, the WHO is part of the United Nations, and they have a rather uncomfortable history of cozying up to the Chinese Communist Party, so are we really surprised? (Free Beacon)

The World Health Organization is set to buy and distribute more than 100 million doses of China’s coronavirus vaccine, against the Biden administration’s wishes.

The White House notified Congress on Monday that COVAX, the WHO’s vaccine distribution network that primarily aids poorer countries, will buy the Chinese-made vaccine, which is widely seen as less effective than the American versions. COVAX has struggled with a shortfall in available vaccines even as the United States shares millions of doses with the world. Chinese pharmaceutical companies Sinovac and Sinopharm are now in line to sell COVAX millions of doses, according to Bloomberg. The Biden administration warned COVAX against relying on the Chinese-made vaccine, and no U.S. funds will be used by the organization to complete the purchase, congressional sources told the Washington Free Beacon.

The fact that the White House is willing to make a stink about this in public may give us a hint as to what the underlying motivations of the Biden Administration are here. We could have just as easily ignored the deal between China and COVAX and said that everyone will need to get doses of COVID vaccines wherever they can. But Team Biden is pushing back on this in a very public way.

One line of objections certainly could be the questionable efficacy (if not safety) of the Sinovac and Sinopharm vaccines. They were created in the “traditional” method of weakening live samples of the virus to produce the desired immune response in the patient. They don’t use the very new mRNA technology employed by Pfizer and Moderna. But no matter how they were developed, the best estimates of their efficacy we’ve seen to date are in the low to mid 60 percent range, far behind the American products.

Beyond that, their performance doesn’t even seem to meet those mediocre numbers that are being reported and other questions have been raised. As the Free Beacon reminds us, many of the Arab countries that have been relying on the Chinese vaccines, along with others in South America and Southeast Asia, are reporting rising numbers of new COVID cases. Even some of the doctors and nurses who took them reported feeling ill for extended periods. There may be more problems with those doses than we’re being told thus far.

But it’s not just a question of efficacy. The Biden administration is currently in the middle of flexing its muscles against China, as we saw with the dispute over the South China Sea this weekend. Joe Biden may be playing politics with this COVAX agreement, not wanting to allow China to look like it’s riding to the rescue when they’re behaving so badly on so many other fronts.

The WHO is assuring the White House that no American money will be spent on purchasing China’s vaccines, but that’s a preposterous claim. Money is fungible. Even if they are tracking their revenue that closely, they could just take the money from some other pot to pay China and then transfer our money into the depleted fund. It all comes out the same in the end.

This entire exercise just gives me one more reason to be glad that the United States decided early on to vaccinate any of its own people who wished to be jabbed first before we began shipping doses all over the world. Once the product (and/or the cash) goes beyond your own borders and lands in the hands of international organizations like this, all bets are off and all control is lost. If this is how the WHO wants to play this, they can take responsibility for the infection rates in the countries they ship those Chinese doses to. Just don’t try shipping any of it to us.