Culture

United Kingdom joins France in push to hand vaccines to poorer nations

United Kingdom joins France in push to hand vaccines to poorer nations”

Rich countries are on course to have over a billion more doses of COVID-19 vaccines than they need, leaving poorer nations scrambling for leftover supplies as the world seeks to curb the coronavirus pandemic, a report by anti-poverty campaigners found on Friday.

The COVAX program has already missed its own goal of beginning coronavirus vaccinations in poor countries at the same time that shots were rolled out in rich countries.

French President Emmanuel Macron told the Financial Times on Thursday that the United States and other European nations should allocate up to 5% of their current vaccine supplies to developing countries. Trump declined to participate in the global effort, insisting his focus must be on providing shots to Americans.

The US government has secured 600 million doses of vaccines made by Pfizer and Moderna that will be available by the end of July.

The Biden administration believes that supporting COVAX "is one of the best ways to expand access to Covid vaccines", the Biden official said, noting that the global effort works only with vaccines that meet World Health Organization standards for both safety and efficacy. It has also purchased doses of the still-to-be-authorized Johnson & Johnson product, as well as other vaccines still in development. Doses remain scarce for now, but supply will eventually far outstrip demand.

"When we have a sufficient supply it is our intention to consider donating surplus vaccines, absolutely", said one official.

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He said he will share surplus vaccines with poorer nations, encourage other G7 nations to do the same, and call for help to develop vaccines faster.

India is the largest beneficiary of Covax, clinching a deal earlier this month to receive 97.1 million of the 2 billion doses to be distributed under the programme, according to an agreement announced earlier in February. As leaders of the G7 we must say today: never again.

"Our filing with the World Health Organization marks another important step in our effort to combat COVID-19 and also in our unwavering commitment to equitable access", Paul Stoffels, Johnson & Johnson vice chairman of the executive committee, and chief scientific officer, said in a news release.

Other wealthy nations have also begun reserving large orders of vaccines, leaving poorer nations to rely on the COVAX initiative for their populations - or on countries such as China, India and Russian Federation, who have begun directly donating their state-produced vaccines to other nations.

"Certainly we've seen attempts by other countries - China and Russian Federation - to use vaccines as a means of making progress diplomatically", White House press secretary Jen Psaki said. "But we are - we watch those actions with concern".



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