According to an internal document, the EU could donate 5% of the COVID-19 vaccines it has secured to poorer nations, a move that risks undercutting the COVAX distribution scheme co-led by the World Health Organization, as reported in the Financial Post.
The plan, drafted by the French government, sets for the first time a clear target for EU vaccine donations which so far had only been considered as an option if the bloc ended up with surplus doses. The plan may also circumvent COVAX's exchange platform to allocate excess doses from rich to poor nations.
Under the proposal, which still needs to be agreed among the EU states, up to 65 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines could eventually be donated by the EU to poor nations.
That would be the 5% of 1.3 billion doses the EU has so far secured under six advance purchase agreements sealed with Pfizer/BioNTech, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson, AstraZeneca/Oxford, Sanofi/GSK and CureVac, the document shows.
COVAX could be used to help identify countries most in need, the French paper says, but to cut costs, vaccines should be delivered directly from vaccine makers, who have a supply deal with the EU, to people most in need in poor nations. Doses would be labeled as "Team Europe" donations, the document says.
The document estimates that the donated doses could be used to inoculate, usually with a double jab, 16 million healthcare workers in 62 poor countries. Doctors and nurses in another 54 low-income nations could also benefit from the donations, it says.
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