China will chair an international meeting on COVID-19 vaccine cooperation next month, its Foreign Ministry announced on Thursday.
Foreign Minister Wang Yi will chair the Aug. 5 meeting to be attended by nearly 30 international partners including foreign ministers, international organizations and UN representatives, public broadcaster CGTN quoted spokesman Zhao Lijian as saying.
The meeting will be held via video link, and aims to strengthen vaccine cooperation and promote fair and reasonable distribution of global vaccines, the ministry added.
As part of its vaccine diplomacy, China has supplied doses to over 100 countries, as well as international organizations.
Earlier this month, the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization (GAVI) signed advanced purchase agreements with Chinese drugmakers Sinopharm and Sinovac to provide up to 550 million COVID-19 vaccines to the COVAX program.
The WHO has already approved the emergency use of vaccines produced by the Chinese pharmaceutical companies.
China has administered over 1.6 billion vaccine doses, and over 223 million people are fully vaccinated, according to Our World in Data, a tracking website affiliated to Oxford University.
The first cases of COVID-19 were reported in China’s central Wuhan city in December 2019. The deadly infection has since spread worldwide resulting in 4.19 million deaths and 196 million cases.
- COVID-19 origins
On the demand to hold a second round of study into the origins of COVID-19, Beijing says the work plan should be led by WHO member states.
The current plan proposed by the WHO Secretariat is "unilateral" and is only for discussions among WHO member states, the spokesman said.
Earlier this year, a WHO team which visited China concluded that the chances of COVID-19 having started in a lab are "extremely unlikely.”
The lab theory began last year and was propagated by former US President Donald Trump.
In May, current US President Joe Biden ordered intelligence officials to "redouble" their efforts to investigate the origins of COVID-19, including the lab theory.
China has time and again rejected the laboratory theory, with the Foreign Ministry terming US actions as “terrorism on origins tracing." It has asked the US to be open to a WHO-led probe.