French President Emmanuel Macron has called on wealthier nations to urgently share their vaccines with developing countries, in comments made ahead of the G7 virtual summit that took place on Friday.
Macron detailed his proposed plan for Europe and the US to commit 4-5% of their COVID-19 vaccines to poor countries in an interview with the Financial Times.
"We're not talking about billions of doses immediately, or billions and billions of euros,” Macron said. “It's about much more rapidly allocating 4-5% of the doses we have… It won't change our vaccination campaigns, but each country should set aside a small number of the doses it has to transfer tens of millions of them, but very fast, so that people on the ground see it happening."
Macron also said that German Chancellor Angela Merkel supported a pan-European vaccine-sharing initiative, and added that he hoped to win the backing of the US as well.
"We are allowing the idea to take hold that hundreds of millions of vaccines are being given in rich countries and we are not starting in poor countries,” he continued. “It's an unprecedented acceleration of global inequality and it's politically unsustainable too because it's paving the way for a war of influence over vaccines.”
Macron’s presidential spokesperson said that France will urgently give 5% of its vaccine stock to poorer countries for free or at a very low price, regardless of whether other wealthy countries join in.
At the time of presenting his plan only Canada, France, Norway, and the European Union had committed to donating excess vaccines to developing countries. Following the G7 summit on Friday, the UK also committed to donating its surplus.
While these nations have committed to sharing their vaccine doses, France is the only country to have set a timeline on when this will happen. Macron has pledged to donate 5% of the country’s surplus vaccines as soon as possible, and is urging fellow G7 countries to follow suit.
The G7 countries released a joint statement after the summit announcing an increase in their support of the COVAX Facility, and committing $7.5 billion to the fund.
As part of this commitment, US President Joe Biden has pledged $4 billion of US aid to the facility, while the European Union has doubled its commitment from from €500 million to €1 billion.