Britain has been leading Europe’s COVID vaccination effort, with more than 15 percent of its population already having received the first jab whereas other European countries have lagged behind in their vaccine rollout – in France, less than 4 percent of people have been inoculated with the first dose.
Despite the EU’s limited success in its mass vaccination program, French President Emmanuel Macron called on western states to share up to 5 percent of their doses with African countries as he warned about growing Russian and Chinese influence in the region with the supply of COVID jabs.
Speaking to the Financial Times through a video link, Macron said that developing countries were buying vaccines from the West at “astronomical prices”, including the one from AstraZeneca. Meanwhile, the FT notes, the African nations are “being offered Chinese and Russian vaccines of uncertain efficacy against new variants of the virus”.
“We are allowing the idea to take hold that hundreds of millions of vaccines are being given in rich countries and that we are not starting in poor countries,” the French president said.
“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,” Macron added. “You can see the Chinese strategy, and the Russian strategy too”.
Macron insisted that sending 4 percent to 5 percent of doses from European supply chains to Africa won’t make a difference for the continent but this should happen as soon as possible. He said that this idea was given the go-ahead by German Chancellor Angela Merkel and he hopes to get Washington on board too.
“The key is to move quicker,” Macron argued. “We’re not talking about billions of doses immediately, or billions and billions of euros. It’s about much more rapidly allocating 4 percent to 5 percent of the doses we have”.