EU puts vaccine donations to poor countries on hold
Head of European Commission says bloc not in position at moment to directly donate coronavirus vaccines to other countries
The European Union’s plan to directly donate coronavirus vaccines to poorer nations has been put on ice, a top EU official said Sunday.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen told Germany's Funke Media Group in an interview that EU member states are still facing problems obtaining vaccines for themselves due to production and delivery issues.
She said the EU’s planned initiative to directly donate coronavirus vaccines to lower and middle-income countries will not begin until they achieve progress in solving these issues.
French President Emmanuel Macron suggested last month that EU member states could donate nearly 5% of the COVID-19 vaccines they receive from producers to African countries to vaccinate doctors and health care workers.
The EU has so far ordered nearly 2.6 billion vaccine doses from leading coronavirus vaccine producers, but as of mid-March, only around 70 million vaccine doses were delivered to all 27 EU member states.
Despite their goal of vaccinating 70% of the adult population by the end of the summer, EU countries significantly lag behind the US, the UK and Israel in vaccinating against COVID-19.
EU member states have so far administered 56 million doses equal to 6.3 doses for every 100 people in the European Union.
The European Commission was mandated by the member states last year to organize the joint procurement of vaccines, but it has come under immense criticism in recent weeks for being too slow to secure vaccine deals and mismanaging the coronavirus vaccine rollout.