BRUSSELS: The EU said Tuesday it is prepared to send Covid vaccines to China as it grapples with a surge in coronavirus infections after lifting its “zero-Covid” policy.
A European Commission spokeswoman, Dana Spinant, said the bloc months ago proposed giving vaccines and Covid expertise to Beijing and “the offer stands”.
A commission spokesman, Tim McPhie, added that the EU health commissioner, Stella Kyriakides, “has reached out and made that offer (of vaccines) to the Chinese authorities”.
He said any supplies of vaccines would be “dependent on the reaction” from Beijing.
Mainland China reports one COVID death for Jan 1
The EU is weighing a coordinated response for passengers arriving from China after several member states, including France, Italy and Spain imposed test requirements on them.
Many EU countries have a surplus of mRNA vaccines – especially the one made by BioNTech/Pfizer – that scientific studies have shown to be more effective against severe Covid than the inactivated-virus ones China has developed and uses.
There is also concern among countries in the European Union that China’s data on Covid infections is unreliable and incomplete.
Data compiled by the World Health Organization, upon which the EU relies, shows no fresh Covid figures from China for over a week.
China has only recorded 22 Covid deaths since December and has dramatically narrowed the criteria for classifying such deaths – meaning that Beijing’s own statistics about the unprecedented wave are now widely seen as not reflecting reality.
Asked about a report in the Financial Times newspaper that the EU offered to give China the Covid jabs for free, McPhie said he had no “specific details on what format it could eventually take”.
EU health ministry officials Tuesday were holding a meeting to discuss the issue, and a follow-up crisis meeting was to take place Wednesday.
China has railed against the increased restrictions on travellers from its territory to some EU countries, as well as to the United States and Japan.