EU to share surplus Covid-19 vaccines with Africa
The European Union wants to set up a mechanism that would allow the sharing of surplus Covid-19 vaccines with poorer neighbouring states and Africa, the EU health chief said on Tuesday.
With a population of 450 million, the EU has already secured nearly 2.3 billion Covid-19 vaccines and candidates from six companies, although most of them still need regulatory approval.
“We are working with member states to propose a European mechanism to share vaccines beyond our borders,” Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides told EU lawmakers on Tuesday.
She stressed the mechanism would get vaccines to poorer countries “before COVAX is fully operational.”
COVAX is the global scheme co-led by the World Health Organisation set up last summer to ensure a fair distribution of Covid-19 shots across the world.
However, the WHO has warned of risks to fair distribution caused by rich nations’ hoarding of available shots, but publicly remains upbeat about COVAX and the possibility of delivering the first vaccines this quarter.
Kyriakides said the EU vaccine-sharing scheme should prioritise health workers and most vulnerable people in the Western Balkans, North Africa, Middle East and poorer sub-Saharan African countries.
“This mechanism would act as a single point for requests and a pipeline through which initial doses can be provided, possibly through COVAX,” an EU Commission document published on Tuesday said.