Ahead of the G-7 virtual meeting Friday, French President Emmanuel Macron has said Europe and the U.S. should allocate up to 5 percent of their current vaccine supplies to the poorest countries “very fast, so that people on the ground see it happening.”
In an interview with the Financial Times, Macron noted that Russia and China have been quick to offer doses of their own products to some African nations.
As the African continent awaits delivery of doses through COVAX, an African Union-created vaccines task force said Friday that it would be getting 300 million doses of Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine in May. The AU previously secured 270 million doses from AstraZeneca, Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson for the continent of 1.3 billion people.
Macron said that “hundreds of millions of vaccines are being given in rich countries” while the vaccination effort in poor countries has barely started.
“It’s an unprecedented acceleration of global inequality and it’s politically unsustainable too because it’s paving the way for a war of influence over vaccines,” he said. “You can see the Chinese strategy, and the Russian strategy too.”
The French president’s office said France was ready to hand over 5 percent of its doses but would not give exact numbers or a date.
European governments are under pressure to speed up their domestic vaccination campaigns after being outpaced by Britain and the U.S.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s spokesman, Steffen Seibert, signaled broad support for Macron’s proposal but said details still have to be thrashed out.
Seibert told reporters in Berlin that “there is an understanding in principle with the French president that European countries will hand over some of their stock to poorer countries on other continents that so far have not been supplied.”
“When that will happen, in what steps, certainly still has to be discussed,” he said.
Development and aid groups said rich Western countries needed to do more, and soon.
“The virus won’t wait on us to be ready before it mutates, so we need to get these vaccines around the world as quickly as possible,” said Romilly Greenhill, U.K. director of anti-poverty group the One Campaign.-AP