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Germany sends first batch of BioNTech COVID-19 vaccines to China

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BERLIN — Germany has sent its first batch of BioNTech COVID-19 vaccines to China, a German government spokesperson said on Wednesday, the first foreign coronavirus vaccine to be delivered to the country.

No other details were available on the timing and size of the delivery.

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The shipment comes after China agreed to allow German nationals in China to get the shot following a deal during Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s visit in Beijing last month, with the German leader pressing for Beijing to allow the shot to be made freely available to Chinese citizens as well.

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“I can confirm a shipment of the BioNTech vaccine is on its way to China,” the person told journalists in Berlin.

Beijing has so far insisted on using only domestically produced vaccines, which are not based on the Western mRNA technology but on more traditional technologies.

The shipment comes amid Beijing dismantling its strict “zero-COVID” regime of lockdowns, which has led to a surge of cases that caught a fragile health system unprepared.

Experts predict that the country of 1.4 billion people could face more than a million COVID deaths next year.

Allowing German expats access to a Western shot is a big gesture to Berlin, reflecting Beijing’s effort to strengthen ties with EU’s biggest economy after years of tensions over trade and climate between the two countries. (Reporting by Thomas Escritt and Alexander Ratz, Writing by Miranda Murray; Editing by Josephine Mason and David Evans)

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