China has signed up to a deal to ensure future COVID-19 vaccines are distributed to developing countries, the biggest economy yet to join the World Health Organization-led bid to control the pandemic.
The COVAX pledge to get vaccines to poorer nations as soon as they are developed aims to head off fears rich countries will limit distribution of game-changing medicines made by their pharmaceutical companies.
The deal gives China, the country where the virus first emerged, a prominent role in the global effort to share vaccines with less-developed countries.
China joined COVAX to “honor its commitment to turn COVID-19 vaccines into a global public good,” foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said Friday of the October 8 agreement.
She gave no details on how much money China would commit to the deal, which has a fundraising goal of $2 billion and aims to provide 92 low and middle-income countries with a future vaccine.
Chinese vaccines “will be provided to developing countries as a priority,” Hua said, adding Beijing hopes “more capable countries will also join and support COVAX.”
Superpower rival the US has not signed up to the deal.
Russia logs record-high cases
Russia registered a record daily number of new coronavirus infections on Friday, surpassing its previous high from May.
Officials reported 12,126 new infections, edging above the previous high of 11,656 on May 11 and bringing the total number of confirmed cases to 1,272,238 – the fourth highest in the world.
Widespread restrictions were lifted after new cases began to drop in May, and officials have shown no sign of moving to reimpose such broad measures.
But the head of consumer watchdog Rospotrebnadzor described the situation as increasingly difficult and warned new measures could lie ahead.
“Either we observe (restrictions) or we will have to introduce new measures,” said Anna Popova.
Madrid braces for state of emergency
Spain’s cabinet was to meet on Friday to discuss imposing a state of emergency in Madrid after judges overturned a partial lockdown that was opposed by the regional authorities.
Thursday’s bombshell decision in effect cancelled restrictions imposed on some 4.5 million people in and around the capital, where infections are rising sharply.
Madrid’s rightwing regional administration, which has responsibility for public healthcare, had strongly opposed the measures imposed on October 2 barring residents of the capital and nine nearby towns from leaving the city limits except for work, school or on medical grounds.
But the central government wants a swift resolution, with Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez calling an emergency cabinet meeting on Friday morning to mull the options.