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Chinese media mocks U.S. donation of 80 vaccine vials to Trinidad and Tobago

FILE PHOTO: Boxes containing the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine are prepared to be shipped at the Pfizer Global Supply Kalamazoo manufacturing plant in Portage

BEIJING (Reuters) - Striking a blow for China's so-called vaccine diplomacy, state media have mocked the United States for calling attention to its donation of 80 vials of COVID-19 vaccines to Trinidad and Tobago.

"Would this be selected for the Worst Public Relations Award of the Year?" the official Xinhua news agency said on Wednesday in an article on WeChat, which compiled more than 10 mocking tweets by other social media users under a U.S. embassy Twitter statement announcing the donation.

Duelling for global influence, Beijing and Washington have both sought to garner goodwill by pledging to supply vaccines

to desperate governments amid a global shortage.

Though Washington recently announced expanded efforts, Beijing got a head start by donating domestically made vaccines to emerging countries.

U.S. President Joe Biden said last week that Washington will donate half a billion doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine to the world's poorest countries, on top of 80 million doses it has already pledged to donate by the end of June.

On Monday, the U.S. Embassy in Port of Spain said on Twitter that its donation to Trinidad and Tobago includes 80 vials of the Pfizer vaccine. Typically, a vial contains five or six doses.

"We believe that every vaccine counts," the embassy said.

Chinese state media outlets including the Global Times and China Daily took delight at the sarcastic comments generated by the embassy tweet.

"Little was given, but much was spoken on it," Xinhua said.

In May, China delivered 100,000 donated doses of Sinopharm's vaccine to Trinidad and Tobago.

Beijing has not disclosed an overall figure for its vaccine donations, but Reuters calculations based on publicly available data show that at least 16.82 million doses had been delivered by early June.

(Reporting by Beijing newsroom; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore)

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