KAMPALA – As Uganda receives its initial batch of the AstraZeneca vaccines under the Covax facility, France is urging richer countries to do more to support vaccination efforts in Africa.
The French President Emmanuel Macron has called on Europe and the developed countries to urgently allocate 4 to 5% of their current Covid19 vaccine stocks to the Covax facility for the benefit of the poorest countries, especially Africa faced with the challenges of access and affordability, adding that a multilateral approach is the only response to the current world public health emergency.
France fully supports the ACT-A multilateral initiative and its Covax component which is key in getting the vaccines to the poorest countries. Europe is currently one of the main donors to Covax with a contribution of over 2.2 billion euros.
Speaking in a recent interview with The Financial Times at the G7 virtual summit, Macron wondered why hundreds of millions of vaccines are being given out in rich countries while vaccination campaigns are yet to start in many poor countries. He described this situation as an unprecedented acceleration of global inequality and politically unsustainable as it is setting the stage for a war of influence over vaccines.
“It’s unacceptable when a vaccine exists to reduce the chances of a woman or a man according to the place where they happen to live,” he said.
He also decried the “astronomical prices” of the western vaccines like AstraZeneca which are sometimes sold to Africa two to three times higher than the price in Europe, while China and Russia are providing cheaper options.
The President welcomed the global provision of the Russian and Chinese vaccines as long as they were certified by scientists for use against the appropriate variants of the virus.
Macron has called for a “fully European and co-operative initiative” that would include the US and others, describing it as a reality test for multilateralism.
The French President observed that that it was in the interest of all countries that wanted their borders to remain open to extend vaccination programmes beyond their home territory.
“Without helping their neighbours, European countries would never be able to reopen because they would end up reimporting Covid-19 variants resistant to their vaccines,” he emphasized.
The French president called on the pharmaceutical companies making Covid19 vaccines to transfer technology abroad in order to accelerate global production while stressing the need for transparency and regulation of the pricing and castigating the tendency towards excess profits based on scarcity of the vaccine.
Finally, the President called for support in favour of African institutions like the African CDC and the network of Institut Pasteur that are essential identifying and containing the risks of variants.