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  • Chinese diplomat open to virus vaccine negotiations

    Author: AAP

Senior Chinese diplomat in Australia Wang Xining says his country will fulfil its obligations around coronavirus vaccines.

A senior Chinese diplomat has flagged coronavirus vaccine negotiations with other nations amid regional jockeying over distributing preventative drugs.

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Australia has pledged $80 million to help Pacific and Southeast Asian countries access a vaccine if and when one becomes available.

China this week promised Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam priority access to a Chinese-made vaccine.

Wang Xining, deputy head of mission with the Chinese embassy in Canberra, has responded to suggestions his country would use a Chinese-made vaccine for diplomacy.

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"People need vaccines, medicines, they want to go back to their normal life," he told the National Press Club on Wednesday.

"We need to negotiate and have consultations with other countries to see how this public good will be applied to people around the world.

"I hope the earlier the better. Bless the people around the world."

Mr Wang said two of the nine Chinese vaccine candidates had entered the third phase of clinical trials.

"We will fulfil our commitment. We will honour our obligations. We will make it a public good," he said.

"But we need to make sure that it is very safe, that it is very secure when it is applied."

Australia's money is going towards the Gavi COVAX Facility Advance Market Commitment, alongside other donors including the UK, Canada, Italy and Norway.

"International investment in vaccine manufacturing and procurement is stronger when nations work together," Foreign Minister Marise Payne said.

Labor is demanding to know if other aid programs will be cut to fund the vaccine investment.

"It's in Australia's interests to be the partner of choice in our region," opposition foreign affairs spokeswoman Penny Wong said.

"When our neighbours are facing unprecedented pressures, robbing Peter to pay Paul creates a leadership vacuum others will fill."

Meanwhile, early testing of a vaccine candidate at the University of Queensland has resulted in positive indications about effectiveness in humans.

The findings from the pre-clinical trials conducted on hamsters have been reported to the International Society for Vaccines.

Project co-leader and UQ Associate Professor Keith Chappell said the immune response in the animals was better than the average level of antibodies in recovered humans.

In the trial, the potential vaccine provided protection against virus replication and reduced lung inflammation.

"It also induces a strong T-cell response and showed strong results when it came to data relating to manufacturability," Professor Chappell said.

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