EU eyes scheme to share surplus COVID-19 vaccines with poorer nations / REUTERS

The European Union wants to set up a mechanism that would allow the sharing of surplus COVID-19 vaccines with poorer neighbouring states and Africa, the EU health chief said on Tuesday – a move that may undercut a WHO-led global scheme.

With a population of 450 million, the EU has already secured nearly 2.3 billion COVID-19 vaccines and candidates from six companies, although most of them still need regulatory approval, Reuters reported.

"We are working with member states to propose a European mechanism to share vaccines beyond our borders," Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides told EU lawmakers on Tuesday, confirming a Reuters report from December.

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Read alsoUIA ready to transport vaccines against COVID-19She 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 COVID-19 shots across the world.

Kyriakides said the EU vaccine-sharing scheme should prioritise health workers and most vulnerable people in the Western Balkans, North Africa, Middle East and poorer sub-Saharan African countries.

Vaccines against COVID-19

  • In March, the first batch with 8 million doses of the vaccine is expected to be shipped to Ukraine under the COVAX Facility. These doses are enough to vaccinate 4 million people as two jabs per person are required. Medics, senior citizens, and seriously ill patients will get vaccinated first.
  • On December 24, 2020, Ukrainian Health Minister Maksym Stepanov said that his ministry was working out a plan to increase the vaccine quota as part of the COVAX global initiative from 8 million to 16 million doses.
  • On December 30, the Ukrainian Health Ministry signed a contract for the supply of China's Sinovac Biotech COVID-19 vaccine to Ukraine. The purchase provides for 1,913,316 doses at UAH 504 (US$18) per dose. China plans to obtain permission to use the vaccine inside the country and abroad in January next year, and the vaccine will also be submitted for retraining to the World Health Organization (WHO) in February 2021.
  • On January 6, some 13 countries of the European Union called on the European Commission to provide access to COVID-19 vaccines for the Eastern Partnership (EaP) countries, including Ukraine.
  • On January 8, Director General of the World Health Organization (WHO) Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that rich countries have the majority of the supply of a COVID-19 vaccine.
  • On January 13, Stepanov said the ministry plans to strike new deals soon for the supply of vaccines against COVID-19.