BRUSSELS: EU leaders agreed on Tuesday to donate at least 100 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines to poorer nations by the end of the year as supplies steadily rise across Europe, reports AP.
Gathered in Brussels for a two-day summit, the 27 leaders backed a text in which they pledge to continue efforts “to increase global vaccine production capacities in order to meet global needs.”Leaders also called “for work to be stepped up to ensure global equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines” and reiterated their support for the U.N.-backed COVAX program. COVAX aims to ensure equitable access to COVID-19 shots for low-and middle-income countries.
The program suffered a major setback last week when its biggest supplier, the Serum Institute of India, announced it would likely not export any more vaccines until the end of the year due to the COVID-19 crisis on the subcontinent.
Leaders acknowledged that vaccination has finally picked up across their continent following a painfully slow start compared with the successful drives in the U.S., Britain and Israel. European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen presented data to the leaders suggesting that 300 million doses will have been delivered in the region by the end of May, with about 46% of the adult population in the bloc of 450 million getting at least a first dose of vaccine.
But as vaccination campaigns continue to progress in the Western world, poorer countries are struggling to acquire supplies. During a health summit in Rome last week, Italian Premier Mario Draghi said that nearly 1.5 billion vaccine doses have been administered in over 180 countries worldwide. Yet only 0.3% were in low-income countries, while richer countries administered around 85%.