China Daily Global Weekly

China, Japan global health efforts urged

Experts say the two sides must work closely on issues like vaccine sharing

- By LIU XUAN liuxuan@chinadaily.com.cn

Adopting methods most appropriat­e to their particular needs, China and Japan have made remarkable progress in curbing the spread of the coronaviru­s at home. However, as the pandemic continues to hold great sway over much of the world, the two continue to work together to fight the disease.

Now, as more vaccines show positive results and some countries begin vaccinatio­n, experts from China and Japan are calling for the two countries to work even more closely together.

Early on, and in a short time, China determined the virus sequence as well as its pathogen, transmissi­on route and incubation period, and shared the informatio­n with the world, allowing vaccine research to start quickly, said Gao Fu, director of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

The Beijing-based center has been working with Japan’s National Institute of Infectious Diseases, and Gao said the two agencies could continue to work together on data sharing and technical exchanges, so as to contribute to the global prevention and control of any possible outbreak.

“The coronaviru­s seems to be very adapted to humans, and it’s possible for us to have the next pandemic or something else in the future.”

Kayo Takuma, professor at Tokyo Metropolit­an University, suggested that Japan and China can help with the fair distributi­on of any COVID-19 vaccine in order to better curb or coexist with infectious diseases.

“It won’t work if only some developed countries with purchasing power have access to resources, especially when vaccine stocks are limited,” she said. “The vaccine should be provided to people all over the world in a fair way.”

A report by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in September said it had been shown that a rush among wealthy countries to lay claim to billions of doses of prospectiv­e COVID-19 vaccines could lead to hundreds of thousands of more deaths than if the vaccines were distribute­d equitably.

Citing two scenarios from Northeaste­rn University’s Laboratory for the Modeling of Biological and Socio-technical Systems, the report said 61 percent of COVID-19 deaths worldwide that would occur without a vaccine could be prevented by distributi­ng a vaccine among countries proportion­al to their population­s.

By contrast, allocating the first two billion doses of vaccine to the highest bidders would prevent just 33 percent of deaths.

“Only when the pandemic is controlled globally can one’s own country benefit from it,” Takuma said. “I hope that Japan and China will take the lead in making the vaccine sharing mechanism work as soon as possible.”

China and Japan are among 170 countries and economies engaging in COVAX, a global initiative aimed at working with vaccine makers to provide countries worldwide equitable access to safe and effective vaccines once they are licensed and approved.

This has shown the importance of internatio­nal collaborat­ion, and China and Japan should do their best to support multilater­alism, said Margaret Chan Fung Fu-chun, former director-general of the World Health Organizati­on.

Joint work through the platform of the United Nations is one of the most effective ways of solving global problems, she said.

Chan said she hopes that by starting with small-scale regional collaborat­ion

China and Japan can help expand it to a multilater­al effort jointly tackling internatio­nal issues.

Zheng Zhijie, professor at the School of Public Health at Peking University, said China and Japan should play an important role in the future economic integratio­n of the East Asia region, especially in public health.

The two should also consider how to strengthen collaborat­ion in preventing outbreaks, recurrence­s and emerging infectious diseases, he said.

 ?? NAOKI NISHIMURA / AFLO ?? A billboard in Tokyo, Japan, on Dec 9 advertises a thank-you celebratio­n for female giant panda Xiang Xiang, a popular attraction at Tokyo’s Ueno Zoological Gardens. The panda had been set to return to China this month but instead will stay until May because of the pandemic.
NAOKI NISHIMURA / AFLO A billboard in Tokyo, Japan, on Dec 9 advertises a thank-you celebratio­n for female giant panda Xiang Xiang, a popular attraction at Tokyo’s Ueno Zoological Gardens. The panda had been set to return to China this month but instead will stay until May because of the pandemic.

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