Germany’s Scholz signs contract for expats in China to use BioNTech vaccine

Germany’s Scholz signs contract for expats in China to use BioNTech vaccine

BEIJING, Nov 4 (Reuters) – German Chancellor Olaf Scholz announced on Friday an agreement to allow expatriates in China to use Germany’s BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine. (22UAy.DE) and pressured Beijing to allow the shot to be freely available to Chinese citizens.

In his first visit since becoming chancellor, Scholz said that China and Germany have different approaches to fighting the virus, but shared responsibility for eradicating it.

BioNTech will be the first non-Chinese coronavirus vaccine to be launched in China, as Beijing has so far insisted on locally produced vaccines.

BioNTech is partnering with US pharmaceutical giant Pfizer on a vaccine against COVID (PFE.N) in regions outside greater China. Back in 2020, it entered into a parallel collaboration agreement with Shanghai Fosun Pharmaceutical (600196.SS) in order to supply ammunition to greater China.

But while footage has become available in Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan, mainland China’s regulatory review has not been completed. BioNTech said the decision was pending with Chinese regulators and did not give a reason for the delay.

No other foreign-made COVID-19 shot has entered the mainland Chinese market.

BioNTech shares rose 6.7% and Fosun shares rose 5.3% after the announcement.

A BioNTech spokesperson told Reuters that vaccines for the Chinese market will initially be imported.

Shanghai Fosun did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The two countries “agreed to cooperate closely in the fight against the epidemic,” Scholz said in a briefing with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang.

‚ÄúThis also includes the approval of the BioNTech vaccine for expatriates in China. Of course, this can only be the first step. I hope that the scope of eligible persons can soon be expanded to the general free possibility of the BioNTech vaccine,” said. Scholz:

The announcement was made against the background of the rumors that Beijing will soon lift its strict COVID-19 lockdown policiesalthough there was no official announcement about it.

China’s zero-covid policy and lockdown measures have kept death and infection rates to a minimum, but have caused massive disruptions to both domestic and global trade and supply chains.

China has nine locally developed COVID vaccines approved for use, more than any other country. But none have been updated to target the highly infectious Omicron variant, as Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna have for boosters in many developed countries.

A recent study found that the shots most commonly used in China were effective in preventing severe cases and deaths, but were less effective than the Omicron version.

Domestically produced mRNA vaccines have not been approved, but Indonesia announced in September that it had approved emergency use of an mRNA vaccine developed by China’s Walvax Biotechnology Co Ltd.

Additional reporting by Kirsty Knolle in Berlin, Hans Seidenstucker in Frankfurt, Brenda Goh in Shanghai and Miyoung Kim in Singapore; written by Mathias Williams and Ludwig Burger; editing by Miranda Murray and Jason Neely

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