50 African diplomats visit Chinese coronavirus vaccine maker
By Liu Yang, Zhao Jing

Ambassadors and diplomats from 50 African countries to China visited the country's largest vaccine maker on Thursday, in a hope to better fight with the COVID-19 pandemic.

In the vaccine factory of Sinopharm, they were briefed about the Phase III clinical trials of the company's COVID-19 vaccine, which is being carried out in 10 countries including UAE, Peru and Argentina with more than 50 thousand volunteers taking part in.

"It's reassuring to see how big the facility is and how Sinopharm CNBG has committed over a period of time, developing vaccines," James Kimonyo, Rwanda's Ambassador to China, told CGTN. "Many other diseases have been treated and prevented by using the vaccines developed by this organization. We hope to get the [COVID-19] vaccines anytime soon."

The company is the first to build a high-grade bio-safety production facility for the inactivated COVID-19 vaccine. It is estimated that the production capacity of the inactivated COVID-19 vaccine will reach over one billion doses in 2021.

"Sinopharm has achieved fruitful results on the African continent," said Wu Peng, director-general of the Africa Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. "China will continue to deepen cooperation with Africa in the fight against COVID-19 and jointly build a China-Africa health community."

Sinopharm was the first Chinese enterprise to carry out medical cooperation with Africa. It undertook more than 40 aid materials projects and more than 20 complete equipment projects for hospitals.

The company sent 80 batches of medical experts and technical teams in Africa and carried out 25 medical training projects for African countries in China.

Sinopharm CNBG is also the world's fifth human vaccine R&D enterprise and manufacturer.

"President Xi Jinping pointed out that after the COVID-19 vaccine is developed and put into use, it will take the lead in benefiting African countries," Liu Jingzhen, the Chairman of the Sinopharm, said. "Sinopharm stands ready to work with the African people to deepen cooperation in the fight against and pandemic, consolidate China-Africa friendship and make important contribution to the joint development of the China-Africa health community."

China and Africa have had a close health cooperation since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Chinese government has provided more than 400 tons of medical supplies to the continent. Nearly two hundred medical experts have also been deployed to train more than 20,000 African medical personnel.

China also has over 1,000 cooperative projects in Africa, including bridges, roads, ports, and hospitals, and all workers are still working during the pandemic.

"Africa has always been with China and China is always been with Africa," Ernest Mbaimba Ndomahina, Sierra Leone's Ambassador to China, told CGTN. "This visit is so much impactful and insightful. This cooperation, I believe, can empower Africa strengthen the relationship between Africa and China."