Germany has shipped a batch of the BioNTech-Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine to China, where it will be administered to Germans who live in the country. The vaccines were sent aboard a flight that was scheduled to land in China on Wednesday, according to Steffen Hebestreit, Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s spokesperson. He claimed that the Chinese government officially informed Berlin in a diplomatic message that German citizens might receive the vaccination, even though it had not been approved for use in China otherwise.
The deal will help some 20,000 Germans living in China, according to Hebestreit, and “at the same time, we are striving to make it feasible for (other) foreigners, expatriates to profit from such a step.”
China has agreed to permit the restricted use of the German-developed BioNTech-Pfizer vaccine in return for Germany permitting Chinese nationals living in Germany to get the Sinovac vaccine, which has not received EU approval.
Scholz said when he visited Beijing in early November that China would make BioNTech-Pfizer shots available for expatriates and said that can “only be a first step,” indicating that he hoped the vaccine’s use could be expanded to the Chinese population.
China so far has approved only domestic vaccines, which use a less evolved technology that has typically proven less effective at preventing the spread of the disease than the BioNTech-Pfizer or Moderna vaccines.
(With inputs from agencies)