France is committing to donate 5% of its secured coronavirus vaccine supplies to poorer countries through the World Health Organization-backed Covax program.
A multilateral approach via Covax — a global alliance many developing nations are relying on for inoculations — is the most efficient way to show solidarity, a French official who asked not to be named in line with protocol, said Thursday.
France hopes the U.S. will make financial commitments regarding vaccines during a Group of Seven summit on Friday, the official added.
President Emmanuel Macron has called on the U.S. and Europe to back his proposal to share 4% to 5% of their coronavirus vaccine supplies. In an interview with the Financial Times, Macron said that German Chancellor Angela Merkel supports the idea. He also said that sharing doses with African countries won’t delay domestic vaccination campaigns by “a single day.”
Earlier on Thursday, Bruce Aylward, senior adviser to the WHO director general, said that Macron’s efforts were encouraging, as previous offers to donate doses haven’t materialized yet.
“There have been many challenges,” Aylward said at a press briefing, citing interruption in vaccine deliveries to countries interested in giving to Covax, which is led by Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations and the WHO.
WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said he spoke to Macron last week about vaccines, including about the barriers to boosting production. In the FT interview, Macron described cheaper inoculations provided by Russia and China as contributing to a strategy by these countries to gain influence abroad.
The French pledge comes as Macron’s government is being criticized by opponents at home for the slow start to its vaccine campaign.