China claims it’s testing Covid-19 vaccine in PNG

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A Chinese mining company in Papua New Guinea claims to have immunised its employees against Covid-19 in an apparent trial as Australia and China prepare for a new “vaccine diplomacy” battle for influence across the region.

Ramu nickel plant

Ramu nickel plant Photo: sulphuricacid.com

This week Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison vowed to help the nation’s “Pacific family” and key Southeast Asian partners gain access to a successful coronavirus vaccine, when one was found, through a foreign aid programme.

The Australian newspaper has learned China may have begun trialling a coronavirus vaccine in the region on employees of its state-owned enterprises.

The PNG government said the Health Department was investigating the claim by Chinese-owned Ramu Nickel that its employees had been vaccinated.

A statement from the company declared 48 employees had been vaccinated with “SARS-COV-2 vaccine” on 10 August.

The statement warned that any Covid testing of its employees within a week of the claimed vaccination “may show positive results” due to antibodies produced in the recipient’s body.

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The Chinese government has given the green light for two potential vaccines to be trialled by state-owned firms with employees overseas, and another to be trialled by the nation’s military.

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