China is using ‘lavish’ PPE contributions to quash concerns about Covid-19 origins, Defence Select Committee chief warns

The call comes as leading security experts warn of the “weaponisation” of the coronavirus vaccine.

David Gordon of the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) says China will seek to “regain lost momentum through vaccine diplomacy” after the disastrous early handling of the pandemic. 

“China can get vaccines out to a lot of the places in the world that otherwise would not be getting them,” he told the Telegraph. 

“China views the vaccine as a soft power tool and is unlikely to attach strings directly. Instead they will frame it as part of the competition over systems and use it to distinguish them from the Americans. 

“China has competed with the US, Europe, other countries for a long time, but it’s only really in the post Covid period that they began to make more explicitly this notion of the superiority of their system. 

“I believe in the next several weeks you will have a substantial announcement by China on a commitment of a big volume of vaccines for export.”

Nigel Gould-Davies, also of the IISS, says the pandemic has intersected with international politics and aggravated some of the fault lines already there.

“Covid is like an alien invasion, it has invaded the human race. No one is better off if the invader wins so there’s a slam dunk case for cooperating against it. Yet, that hasn’t really happened.”

He says the underlying theme of his think-tank’s strategic survey, published last November, is the worrying mismatch between the demand and supply of international cooperation.

“It is the biggest cooperation gap since World War Two.”

Dispute over the origins of the virus are “politically and diplomatically a source of very significant division,” he says.