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Africans are not interested in getting the jab. Photo credit: Mat Napo

Global demand for vaccines drops sharply

Chinese biotech firm Kexing Holdings has made a fortune selling Sinovac's Chinese vaccine. A few days ago, however, it became known that the bonus payments were withheld and most of the workforce has been laid off. Exports of Chinese vaccines (Sinovac, Sinopharm, CanSino) were 97 percent lower in April than in September 2021.

Published: May 14, 2022, 12:26 pm

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    The Chinese outlet Caitong News reported, citing Kexing employees, that the company made a profit of 82 billion yuan (around 11.6 billion euros) last year. At the same time, the company announced that the year-end bonus payment for the past year would be “postponed”.

    Shortly thereafter, Kexing suddenly announced massive layoffs. According to Kexing officials, the company has given staff two options: resign themselves and collect an indefinite severance pay, or take indefinite leave. In the latter case, with 80 percent of Beijing’s minimum wage as compensation.

    According to the report, Kexing (Sinovac) has already laid off up to 70 percent of its staff. After the last wave of layoffs was completed in April of this year, the year-end bonuses were then distributed to the remaining employees on April 25. There is no statement or justification for the layoffs by Kexing. However, according to Japanese media reports, China’s vaccine exports have fallen sharply.

    Thus, Nikkei Asia, citing UNICEF, reported that the vaccine against Covid-19, which is manufactured by three Chinese companies Sinopharm, Sinovac and CanSino, exported a total of 6,78 million doses in April this year. This is a drop of 97 percent compared to the peak exports in September 2021.

    Massive drop in exports also for other Covid jabs

    Global demand for vaccines has fallen sharply this year. Not only the exports of Chinese vaccines have fallen sharply due to their ineffectiveness against the Omicron variant.

    Exports of Moderna’s and Pfizer’s mRNA drugs are also down 57 and 71 percent, respectively, compared to September last year, according to the report. Pfizer’s exports are nevertheless still eight times those of the three Chinese companies combined.

    In South Africa, vaccine production has been grinding to a halt due to the fact that there are no orders.

    Vaccine production in Africa almost halted

    In South Africa, for example, the pharmaceutical company Aspen, which produces its own filling of the vaccine from Johnson & Johnson and sells it under the name Aspenovax, reported that there were no orders.

    “It is feared that the production of the vaccine in South Africa will have to end. There is simply no demand for it. Not a single order has come in for weeks,” German daily Süddeutsche Zeitung reported.

    The risk is “very high that the company will actually stop producing Johnson & Johnson vaccines,” the head of the African health authority (African Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) is quoted as saying in the report. Only around 12 percent of the population in Africa have been vaccinated twice. About 40 percent of the vaccine doses shipped to Africa were not used.

    The over-supply of free Covid-19 vaccine doses — donated by high-income countries — had closed the gap that Aspen was meant to fill in the market.

    According to another German daily, the Tagesanzeiger, millions of BioNTech vaccine doses will have to be disposed of in June.

    The comparatively young population of Africa is hardly affected by Corona and faces completely different challenges, such as malaria or the impending starvation catastrophe. Against the background of the threat of starvation or an infection with malaria, which affects millions of people and kills hundreds of thousands every year, there is simply no room for media hysteria around the Corona virus.

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