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Like other European countries, Poland is grappling with delayed and smaller than expected supplies of the coronavirus vaccine.

While the EU is falling behind on its joint vaccine procurement strategy due to delivery problems, the Polish government decided to attempt acquiring additional batches on its own.

On Monday, the government voiced the possibility of Poland purchasing the Chinese–made vaccine used by an increasing number of countries around the world. The vaccine, however, has not yet been approved by the EU's European Medicines Agency.

The Chinese vaccine as a „global public good”?

The Polish and Chinese presidents are said to have already discussed the potential purchase over the phone. "At the request of Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, the president also raised the question of Polish-Chinese cooperation in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic, including the possibility of Poland purchasing vaccines produced in China” – the presidential aide Krzysztof Szczerski told the Polish Press Agency (PAP).

He emphasized that a possible purchase of the Chinese vaccine “will be subject to further discussion at the intergovernmental level." "Nevertheless, President Duda welcomed the Chinese leader's declaration of Beijing's readiness to make the Chinese-produced COVID-19 vaccines a global public good" – the president’s aide concluded.

Europe and the Chinese vaccine

A growing number of European states are considering acquiring the Chinese vaccine. Last week, Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orbán announced his country has bought the Chinese-produced coronavirus shot. Mr. Orbán received the Chinese vaccine himself, while at the same time criticizing the European Union for its joint vaccine procurement strategy and the failure of global manufacturers to deliver the supply on time.

On Monday, leaders of the Czech Republic announced that they would also welcome vaccines from China or Russia, even if they lack the EU’s safety approval. 

On January 31, Germany’s Health Minister Jens Spahn called on the European Medicines Agency (EMA) to approve the Chinese Sinopharm vaccine "should it prove safe and effective." He was echoed by the Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, who not only advocated for the approval of Chinese and Russian products but also expressed his readiness to produce them in Austria. In his view, "no geopolitical taboo" should interfere with the primary goal: ensuring that vaccines are available to everyone.

During last month’s 17+1 group summit with European leaders, President Xi Jinping declared Beijing’s readiness to deliver vaccines to other interested countries in our region. China makes no secret of the fact that it views the issue of vaccines in political rather than economic terms. Unlike in the West, vaccine supply contracts are negotiated by the Chinese government, not the manufacturers.

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