Xi: China open to 'vaccine cooperation' with Eastern Europe

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A medical worker wearing protective gear waits for people to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, at Belgrade Fair makeshift vaccination center in Belgrade, Serbia, Tuesday, Feb. 9, 2021. China is ready to consider "vaccine cooperation" with Central and Eastern European countries, President Xi Jinping said Tuesday in a meeting held by video link with European leaders. Serbia has received 1 million doses of a Chinese-developed coronavirus vaccine and Hungarian and Chinese vaccine developers are cooperating. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)

BEIJING – China is ready to consider “vaccine cooperation” with Central and Eastern European countries, President Xi Jinping said Tuesday in a meeting held by video link with European leaders.

Serbia has received 1 million doses of a Chinese-developed coronavirus vaccine, and Hungarian and Chinese vaccine developers are cooperating, Xi said, according to the official Xinhua News Agency.

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban told the meeting he expects the first shipments of a Chinese COVID-19 vaccine to arrive in the country as early as next week.

Orban praised the Chinese scientific community for developing the Sinopharm vaccine, and thanked Hungarian medical experts for visiting production sites in China and consulting with Chinese experts.

“I have received very reassuring reports from our delegation, based on which our national regulator has issued (the Sinopharm vaccine) a permit for emergency use," Orban said and praised the "constructive attitude of the Chinese authorities, which has enabled us to sign the vaccine purchase agreement.”

Hungary was the first country in the EU to issue approval to the Sinopharm vaccine, and has purchased enough doses to inoculate 2.5 million people.

Beijing will “actively consider such cooperation” with other governments, Xinhua quoted the president as saying during the China-CEEC summit.

Sinopharm and another vaccine made by state-owned developers, Sinovac, have received conditional approval from China. Deals to supply millions of doses have been also reached with Turkey and at least eight other foreign countries.