- Chinese leader Xi Jinping has made the pledge to give Africa a billion vaccines.
- The undertaking, announced this Monday, comes as the world deals with the new Omicron variant.
- Xi added that China will be sending 1,500 health experts to the continent.
In a renewed push for vaccine diplomacy, Chinese leader Xi Jinping has pledged to send over a billion more vaccine doses to Africa.
"To help fulfill Africa's target to inoculate 60% of its population against COVID-19 by 2022, China will give Africa a billion doses of the vaccine," Xi said in a speech in Beijing on Monday.
Of this amount, 600 million doses will be donations from China, while the other 400 million will be donated to Africa through channels like joint production collaborations between Chinese companies and their African counterparts.
Xi also announced that China would be sending 1,500 health experts to Africa to help build health projects.
The Chinese leader noted that China has already sent 200 million vaccine doses to South Africa, mainly from China's stockpiles of its locally-produced Sinopharm COVID-19 shots.
In September, the Chinese foreign ministry said that it had completed the delivery of some 1.1 billion vaccine doses from China to over 100 countries. The latest pledge will bring the total number of vaccine doses donated by China to over two billion.
However, observers have questioned the efficacy of the Chinese vaccines after countries like the Seychelles — which took China's Sinopharm shot and used it for more than half of the country's doses — recorded a marked rise in virus cases despite 60% of the population being fully-vaccinated.
Xi's announcement comes within a week of the Omicron coronavirus variant surfacing. The variant was first reported to the World Health Organization by South Africa. While much is still unknown about the variant, its more than 50 mutations have led the WHO to warn that it poses a "very high" global risk.