What next for vaccine diplomacy?

  • establish themselves as reliable suppliers of vaccines,
  • strengthen their global presence, and
  • boost their bilateral relations with the many emerging countries where Western influence is declining.
  • China is also trying to restore its global reputation, which took a hit in the early stages of the pandemic.

What is in it for China and Russia?

  • For instance, Russia started discussions with Bolivia about access to mines producing rare earth minerals and nuclear projects shortly after delivering a consignment of its Sputnik V vaccine.
  • For example, China may seek to reward Cambodia and Laos with vaccines for their support on territorial disputes in the South China Sea.
  • Meanwhile, Pakistan may be getting shots in return for its approval of projects linked to China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

How are China and Russia choosing recipient countries?

China and Russia’s vaccine diplomacy spans across the globe

Spotlight: Russia’s vaccine diplomacy

  • Hungary and Slovakia have already placed orders, and others may follow suit.
  • Looking ahead, there is every chance that the Sputnik V jab will sow division in the EU, as the bloc struggles to speak with a single voice when it comes to Russia. The German chancellor, Angela Merkel, and the French president, Emmanuel Macron, have recently discussed the prospect of authorising and producing Sputnik V in the EU with the Russian president, Vladimir Putin.
  • In 2021 the country will struggle to deliver as many vaccines as it has pledged because of production delays and shipment capacity.
  • In addition, convincing recipient countries that the Sputnik V vaccine is both safe and effective may be difficult.
    In April, Slovakia raised concerns about the Russian jab when the Slovak drug agency declared that some Sputnik V samples it had tested were different from the vaccine used in a Lancet study that showed the shot to be 91.6% effective.
    However, this may not matter in the long term if Russia manages to increase its footprint in countries where the vaccine is being used and, eventually, produced.

Spotlight: China’s vaccine diplomacy

Will Russia and China deliver?

Are Western countries engaging in vaccine diplomacy?

Is the damage done to the reputation of Western powers?

China-produced Covid-19 vaccines



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Joaquim Cardoso @ BCG

Joaquim Cardoso @ BCG


Senior Advisor for Health Care Strategy to BCG — Boston Consulting Group