China approves sale of Pfizer COVID pill Paxlovid as cases surge, White House denies involvement

The White House said it's important that other countries benefit from American scientific innovation

China has approved the sale of Pfizer’s COVID-19 pill, Paxlovid, to combat a surge of cases on the mainland, marking a rare move for Beijing, normally wary of Western vaccines and medicine. 

The approval comes as China races to vaccinate its most vulnerable people in anticipation of a fresh wave of COVID-19 infections. The World Health Organization has raised concerns that China was not adequately vaccinated and the U.S. offered to help.  

Ashish Jha

White House COVID-19 Response Coordinator Ashish Jha speaks during the daily briefing at the White House in Washington, Thursday, Dec. 15, 2022. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh / AP Newsroom)

Paxlovid is now only available in hospitals for high-risk patients, but the treatment may soon be more widely available. 

White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator Dr. Ashish Jha said Thursday that the U.S. government "was not involved in any way" in the approval process but welcomed other countries benefiting from U.S. innovation. 


"Since the beginning of this administration, the president has been very clear that we think it’s really important for the world to benefit from the fruits of American scientific innovation," he said, noting that the U.S. has donated 700 million doses of the vaccine – the most of any country.

"The president’s been very clear. We stand ready to help any country that needs help in terms of vaccines, treatments, anything else. So, that offer stands globally for any country that could benefit," he said. 

FOX Business has reached out to Pfizer for comment. 

Beijing, China

Commuters wearing face masks walk through the plastic curtain as they exit a subway station in Beijing, Monday, Oct. 31, 2022.  (AP Photo/Andy Wong / AP Newsroom)

Analysts have warned that China’s aggressive COVID measures have shielded a population from obtaining "herd immunity." 

In a note on Thursday, analysts at Eurasia Group grimly predicted that upward "of 1 million could die from COVID in the coming months."


Other experts have pinpointed that potential toll at more than 2 million. 

Reuters contributed to this report.