EU health commissioner Stella Kyriakides tells lawmakers that a mechanism will be devised to share surplus coronavirus vaccines.
The European Union wants to set up a mechanism that would allow the sharing of surplus coronavirus vaccines with poorer neighboring states and Africa, the EU health chief said on Tuesday, in a move that may undercut a WHO-led global scheme.
The EU, with a population of 450 million, has already secured nearly 2.3 billion coronavirus 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,” EU health commissioner Stella Kyriakides told EU lawmakers on Tuesday, confirming a Reuters report from December.
She stressed the mechanism would get vaccines to poorer countries “before COVAX is fully operational”, referring to the global scheme co-led by the World Health Organisation set up last summer to ensure a fair distribution of coronavirus shots across the world.
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COVAX is already operational but has so far struggled to secure vaccines. It announced in December deals for nearly 2 billion doses, but the largest part of these shots has been pledged by vaccine makers under non-binding accords because COVAX is currently short of money to book them in advance.
“Firms will not give you doses if you don’t pay in advance,” a senior EU vaccine negotiator said on condition of anonymity, noting that the EU initiative was the result of COVAX having fallen short of expectations.
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