Berlin says supplying Germans in China with mRNA jabs

December 21, 2022 0 By Cypher9ja

Germany said it had received permission for a shipment of mRNA vaccines against Covid-19 to land in China on Wednesday to be given to Germans living in the country.

Government spokesman Steffen Hebestreit told reporters that the first batch of German pharma company’s BioNTech jabs were being flown to China. 

“The Chinese government informed Germany today that for the time being German citizens in China may be given the BioNTech vaccines,” he said, adding that “around 20,000 Germans would benefit” from the shipment.

He added that Germany was negotiating to win access for “other so-called expatriates” from other countries. 

“In return, Chinese citizens in Europe, in Germany, may receive the Chinese vaccine Sinovac, if they so choose,” Hebestreit said.

It was not immediately clear whether other shipments would follow from Berlin.

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Germany’s diplomatic representations in China said in a letter informing citizens of the offer that Chancellor Olaf Scholz had won the vaccine agreement on his first official visit to Beijing last month.

Some diplomats in China as well as their family members were already being offered mRNA vaccines as early as 2021 although it was not broadly publicised.

Beijing’s agreement with Berlin marked what was believed to be the largest group of people in China to be offered mRNA jabs against Covid-19 thus far.

Beijing has refused to greenlight foreign vaccines such as the mRNA-based shots from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna for public use.

German news magazine Der Spiegel reported that President Frank-Walter Steinmeier had offered Chinese leader Xi Jinping during a phone call on Tuesday help in fighting Covid-19 including supplying “hundreds of millions” of BioNTech vaccines but that the overture had been declined. 

Studies have suggested that Chinese jabs — developed using older technology — offer less effective long-term protection and prevent fewer severe cases and deaths than foreign mRNA shots.

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China is now beating a retreat from its strict zero-Covid policy, but low vaccination rates among its own elderly have seeded fears that the coronavirus could kill as many as 2.1 million people.