The EU is the leading funder of COVAX and leading exporter of vaccines in the world
COVID-19 – Vaccines/COVAX – Reply by M. Clément Beaune, Minister of State for European Affairs, attached to the Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, to a question in the Senate
Paris, 19 May 2021
You stress the importance of international solidarity in fighting this pandemic; you’re right. We don’t just have a humanitarian and moral duty to support countries – there are very many of them today – which have no access to vaccines because they lack the financial resources or production capacity; it’s also in our interest when it comes to France and Europe’s health, as we’re seeing so much with the proliferation of certain variants: we won’t be safe until the whole world has been progressively vaccinated.
So we’ve got to move faster. I’d like to recall – as we’re talking about solutions which won’t be resolved for several months, such as lifting patents – that we, France and the European Union, initiated the international solidarity with, among other things, the COVAX mechanism, over a year ago. As you recalled, it has allowed us now to distribute just over 65 million doses in more than 120 countries.
There have been a number of delays compared to what we were anticipating, because we’ve experienced them in the industrial supply chain, which have sometimes affected us – I’m thinking of the AstraZeneca vaccine –, but we’re moving faster.
Let me remind you that the European Union is the leading funder of COVAX today, generally speaking, the leading international donor, and the leading exporter of vaccines in the world.
We welcome the fact that the United States has finally joined us in this movement of international solidarity; President Biden – this will help speed things up – has announced a significant number of doses to be donated over the next few weeks.
To achieve this we’ve got to mobilize all the available vaccines – you were talking about the Sanofi one. The pharmaceutical company announced positive results at the very beginning of the week. We hope – provided phase three goes smoothly – that it can be authorized to be put on the market, that this additional vaccine will be available in the last quarter of the year. It will be necessary for the European Union and France because we’ll still need it, and for speeding up these international efforts.
Let me also remind you that with a view to this effort of solidarity and speeding it up, the European Union has ordered a total of more than 2.5 billion doses. This is obviously much more than we need to vaccinate our own population – that will of course be our priority – but it also allows us to provide a number of doses as soon as possible.
Finally, let me remind you that France, bilaterally, in this framework, is giving doses to African healthcare workers to ensure this priority solidarity effort./.