Is China the Global Vaccine Manufacturing Powerhouse or Pariah?

Syama Ayas

Regular Member
Oct 4, 2015
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For a nation accounting for over 17% of global manufacturing exports, the question of vaccine manufacturing does not rise

And some media outlets like CNA go with that thought process assuming China's vast manufacturing will ensure China is also able to mass produce vaccine

But none of these seem to provide global share of China in vaccine manufacturing or overall numbers

When claims are made but number and statistics not provided to back them up it makes one suspicious of the claim.

So I did a bit digging on this and got below article

China aims to make 1 billion COVID-19 vaccine doses a year

One line in the below article caught my attention-

Capacity is expected to reach 610 million doses by the end of this year, Zheng Zhongwei from the National Health Commission said.
The above statement indicates that China on September 25, 2020 (when the article was published) did not have the capacity to produce 610 million doses

While this statement does provide an approximate estimate, it still doesn't provide the exact the number

So I tried method 2 - figure the numbers by elimination i.e. by subtracting Chinese

First, eliminating the biggest share, as India manufacture 60% of world's vaccines we can deduce that China comes under the remaining 40% share

Not without India: World's pharmacy gears up for vaccine race

Among these 40% the major producers are Sanofi (France), GlaxoSmithKline (USA), Mereck (USA) and Johnson & Johnson (USA)


Source- India’s Vaccine Colossus Is a Model for the World to Follow

Again not a single Chinese firm among the above indicating there is no Chinese firm even producing above 100 million

So given above data since it beginning of 2021 and assuming Chinese firm did reach the goal of 610 million doses capability

China in currently capacity can only produce enough does for 305 million of its total 1.4 billion population

These numbers question outlandish claims like below article and raise following questions

Coronavirus: China’s firms ‘set to export 400 million vaccine doses’

If China plans to export 400 million vaccines, then will that mean only 210 million doses left for Chinese citizens?

For vaccine nationalism China will prioritize vaccine exports over domestic vaccinations?

How long before all of China has vaccination completed given limited capacity to manufacture vaccines?

Can China keep its vaccine export promises?

Based on the above we can conclude while China is neither a pariah or a powerhouse in vaccine manufacturing, it will certainly end up as a global pariah again if its fails to choose wisely between its citizens and exports and not at the cost of one for the other

-Syama Ayas

Update current estimated capacity of China's vaccine volume is 565 million, meaning COVID doses for approximately 283 million people


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