Macron urges for vaccine sharing with Africa

 

Macron highlights the risk of an acceleration of global inequality.

French President Emmanuel Macron has urged wealthy nations to allocate 3% to 5% of their covid-19 vaccine supplies to developing countries where vaccination campaigns are yet to take off.

This was said in an interview with UK-based Financial Times before a video conference with G7 leaders pointing out how African countries were forced to buy the vaccine at double the price of European nations. 

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He defended his position as lying in the best interests of France and Europe given there are 10 million French citizens whose families reside across the Mediterranean. Britain is hosting the G7 club of wealthy nations to be chaired by Boris Johnson. During the meeting, he is expected to unveil a parallel plan to reduce the amount of time to create vaccines. Macron’s proposal might interfere with that initiative. 

Recently G7 leaders have faced condemnation in their vaccine purchasing. For instance, collectively, G7 nations have preordered over 1.5 billion vaccines more than their populations and are keen on maintaining vast surpluses. Presently, Russia and China have outmaneuvered them and are shipping vaccines directly to poor countries. Another issue that might be discussed at the G7 is the China debate after the EU went ahead to sign a trade deal without the US involvement. The G7 comprises Canada, UK, Germany, France, Japan, Italy, and Canada.  This is the first summit to be attended by new US President Joe Biden.

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Macron’s conviction is a part acknowledgment of the West ignoring the plight of poor nations. A good number of vaccines being funded hardly meet WHO approval and might not be advisable for poor countries let alone distributing to rural areas.

Macron described the current perception of wealthy nations only getting vaccines while poorer ones remain left out as “acceleration of global inequality” and only fueling a “war of influence” over vaccines. He also pointed out how China and Russia were rushing to fill in the void. 

Macron called for greater transparency among pharmaceutical companies including their technology which would allow production to take place in Africa. He did not dismiss the importance of intellectual property which is essential for innovation but argued against the demerits of letting the current status quo continue. 

He proposed each European country set aside a small number of their vaccines for distribution to Africa. Apparently, his idea has the support of Angela Merkel, the German chancellors, and cannot affect the distribution of vaccines across Africa. Macron described his plan as a “test of multilateralism” rather than the current perception of vaccine diplomacy or power gameplay. 

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He also argued from a medical angle describing the failure to vaccinate the vaccine everywhere in sync would only result in its mutation and return to the European continent with more severe strains. 

Boris Johnson is expected to mirror the same concerns and pledge that the country will share future plans of coronavirus vaccine supply to Covax, the procurement pool supporting developing countries. G7 countries will be urged to increase their funding for Covax. The United Kingdom has thus far pledged £548m while Germany will increase its funding too. This collective financing model helps give manufacturers the required volumes before licenses are issued.

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On Wednesday, UN Secretary Antonio Guterres described the distribution of vaccines globally as “unfair and uneven.” In a glaring display of disparity, only 10 countries have administered 75% of their vaccines while more than 130 countries are yet to get a single dose. 

Ph: Valeriya Anufriyeva / Shutterstock.com

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