China, which has four coronavirus vaccine candidates in stage 3 clinical trials, said Friday it is joining the COVID-19 vaccine alliance known as COVAX.
The country signed an agreement with GAVI, the co-leader of the alliance, on Thursday, China's Foreign Ministry said in a statement. Initially, China did not agree to join the alliance, missing the global deadline to join in September.
Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said in a statement that “we are taking this concrete step to ensure equitable distribution of vaccines, especially to developing countries, and hope more capable countries will also join and support COVAX.”
It is not yet clear the exact terms of the agreement and how China will contribute. The country's leader Xi Jinping previously said that China would make the vaccine a global public good.
The alliance is designed so that richer countries agree to buy into potential vaccines and help finance access for poorer ones. The Trump administration in the U.S. had declined to join the alliance.