France will soon become the first member of the European Union to send some of its vaccines to developing countries under the international COVAX scheme.
This is reported by Reuters.
France’s donation of the first 100,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine is an incentive for COVAX, which is supported by the World Health Organization and the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization.
COVAX aims to provide 2 billion doses of the vaccine to low-income countries by the end of 2021 and has received billions of dollars in support, but no country-specific doses.
“France will open a European vaccine exchange mechanism with COVAX. We very much hope that other countries will commit to physically sharing vaccines with COVAX, “ said an adviser to French President Emmanuel Macron.
He said France had committed to sending 500,000 doses by mid-June. According to the adviser, the first batch of AstraZeneca doses, taken from the expected deliveries of France itself, will be sent to COVAX “in the near future.”
Macron called on EU countries to send 5% of their vaccine supplies to developing countries to help the bloc seize the initiative from Russia and China in vaccine diplomacy.
Moscow and Beijing have signed deals to deliver more than 1 billion doses to Africa, Latin America, and EU partners such as Turkey, Egypt, Morocco, and the Balkan states that are candidates to join the bloc.
In March, COVAX said it had delivered 237 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine to 142 countries by the end of May, and also delivered the first Pfizer injections.