BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN – The Chinese government donated 100,000 doses of the Sinopharm vaccine on Sunday, providing a boost to the sultanate’s vaccination efforts. 

The delivery is the second batch of Sinopharm vaccines donated by China. Beijing contributed 52,000 doses back in February and it was used in the initial rollout of the country’s vaccination programme. 

“China has provided over one billion doses of Chinese vaccines, the largest amount in the world, to more than 100 countries and international organisations,” said Yu Hong, the Chinese ambassador to Brunei.

“In the course of this year, China will strive to provide two billion doses of vaccines to the world, and has decided to donate US$100 million to the COVAX for distributing vaccines to developing countries.”

The ambassador handed over the donation to Second Minister of Foreign Affairs YB Dato Hj Erywan PDPJ Hj Md Yusof at Brunei International Airport.

Two weeks ago, the sultanate had to temporarily halt provision of first dose vaccinations, postponing more than 4,000 appointments as supply was unable to keep up with demand amid the country’s worst coronavirus outbreak.

Although Brunei is expecting delivery of 300,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine later this year, the government entered negotiations with Singapore for a potential vaccine swap, a deal that would give Brunei access to vaccines earlier.

China and Brunei have deepened bilateral cooperation during the course of the pandemic – the government engaged a Chinese firm to develop BruHealth, a contact tracing app that has played a key role in COVID-19 management.

The Chinese company BGI also help set up a new mobile testing laboratory to increase the sultanate’s testing capacity while the investment firm IDG Capital donated a genome sequencing machine that will test local samples for COVID-19 variants.