Chinese President Xi Jinping said that his government will provide $2 billion over two years to help the countries most affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

He made the announcement from Beijing on Monday via video-conference at the annual meeting of the World Health Organization (WHO), reports Efe news.

Xi also said that any vaccines developed in China against the disease, which has caused more than 318,000 deaths worldwide, "will be available as a global public good so that they are accessible and affordable for all developing countries".

The first COVID-19 cases were detected in December 2019 in the Chinese city of Wuhan.

Xi said China will work together with the other G20 nations to suspend debt to the poorest countries as part of measures to overcome the economic crisis caused by the health emergency.

He said the world is facing "the most serious world public health emergency since the end of World War II" and that the pandemic "surprised us all and has spread to more than 210 countries and regions".

Faced with criticism from some nations, such as the US over the pandemic, Xi said the Chinese government "has displayed an open, transparent and responsible attitude, sharing information with the WHO and the countries involved".

"The WHO's leadership has been indisputable and has contributed to the promotion of cooperation against COVID-19."

He called for more political and financial support for the organisation, which has also been criticised by US President Donald Trump.

The Chinese leader said he was in favour of an objective and impartial comprehensive review of the international response to the pandmic under WHO supervision, after it has been contained.

Xi also offered to work with the UN to build a store of materials in China for the international community to guarantee the supply chain of essential equipment, after shortages in several countries during the pandemic.

He also pledged to establish a sponsorship mechanism between China and 30 African hospitals and to collaborate in the creation of a disease prevention centre on the continent.

"Let us work hand in hand to protect the life and health of peoples around the world," Xi concluded.