When all else failed to stop the coronavirus the world turned to the search for vaccines. Now, thanks to shortages and politicisation, global division of peoples according to choice of vaccine could exacerbate the economic disruption of the pandemic and hurt hundreds of millions in poor countries. Many people have no choice about which vaccine they receive, but countries can be selective about which they recognise, leaving them with limited travel options. The United States and western Europe have yet to recognise Chinese vaccines , and China theirs. China is reported to be in the final stages of approval for Pfizer-BioNTech, for which it would presumably expect reciprocity. It remains to be seen whether the two Chinese vaccines, now being reviewed for the first time by the World Health Organization, receive global approval. China has faced scrutiny for not releasing detailed data about its vaccine trials. Approval for the products from Sinopharm and Sinovac Biotech would make a big difference to poor countries because shortages have hurt a WHO vaccine distribution programme, prompting some to turn to China. There are reports of imminent approval of Sinopharm, with Sinovac close to final vetting. Why China may struggle to meet its Covid-19 vaccination target by June A history of production of new vaccines accounts for faster approval of Western vaccines. With China having administered more than 200 million doses of its vaccines, which have also been widely used in Latin America, the Middle East and Southeast Asia, there is ample scientific data on which WHO experts can rate their safety and efficacy. If the review is a political exercise it becomes pointless. There are only so many vaccines and Western versions have issues of their own. Production of Pfizer-BioNTech is limited and faces exacting transport and storage requirements. The others have had to deal with production issues and perceptions of side effects. If Western countries accept only Western vaccines they are limiting their choices – and supply. Without Chinese vaccines, including through the WHO’s Covax programme, hundreds of millions in Latin America could remain unvaccinated. If science prevails over politics, the world will be a better place.