2nd Mar 2024

EU exported over one billion vaccines so far

  • Ursula Von der Leyen said 87 million doses had been channelled through the Covax programme to support vaccination in poorer countries (Photo: European Parliament)
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The EU exported more than one billion doses of Covid-19 vaccines over the past 10 months, the European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen announced on Monday (18 October).

The chief of the EU executive said doses were delivered to more than 150 countries, making the 27-nations bloc the largest exporter of Covid-19 vaccines in the world.

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Von der Leyen also said that 87 million of the doses had been channelled through the Covax, the programme which support access to vaccines in poorer nations.

On top of the exports, von der Leyen announced that the EU will donate 500 million doses extra to middle-and-low-income countries, while urging other rich countries "to step up, too".

She said that next week's G20 summit will be a good opportunity to discuss the issue.

The EU has allowed the export of vaccines, since they were first approved in December 2020, unlike other nations such as the US and the UK.

Washington, for example, imposed limits on exports of vaccines and components required for the production of vaccines – which triggered tensions over coronavirus jab supplies.

In January, the EU set out an export-control mechanism on vaccines produced in EU countries, but only 250,000 doses of AstraZeneca (due to go to Australia) were blocked, as a response to shortfalls.

Overall, at least every second dose produced in the EU is shipped abroad, according to Von der Leyen.

The EU and the US have now teamed up to help vaccinate 70 percent of the global population by September 2022.

Von der Leyen's statement comes amid fears over the so-called "vaccine nationalism" in the international community – which has simultaneously triggered a race to show geopolitical leadership.

Experts estimate that 16.5 billion vaccine doses are needed to vaccinate the world against Covid-19, Bloomberg reported.

Meanwhile, UN secretary-general Antonio Guterres has warned that the current 'normality' that many developed countries are experiencing will not be sustained over time without a "coordinated and equitable" approach to vaccines.

"Vaccine inequality is allowing Covid-19 variants to develop and run wild, condemning the world to more deaths and prolonging an economic slowdown," he tweeted on Monday.

It is estimated that the global economy could lose as much as €4.6 trillion over the next five years as a result of unequal vaccine access.

According to Our World in Data, 47.6 percent of the global population has received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine. However, less than three percent of people in low-income countries have received at least one dose, compared to over 70 percent in the richest nations.

Global leaders will meet next month for another round of discussions at the World Trade Organization on the possible temporary lifting of intellectual properties rights for Covid-19 vaccines, test and treatments. African countries are seeking EU support for this proposal.

The EU, the UK, Australia, Brazil, Japan, Norway, and Switzerland are currently against the waiver proposal, which has, however, received the support of the United States.

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