European countries should allocate 4-5% of their vaccine supply to developing countries, French President Emmanuel Macron has urged ahead of the G7 virtual meeting Friday where the issue is expected to be discussed.
In an interview with Financial Times, Macron said the battle for vaccine supply had caused "a new form of unsustainable inequality" to emerge between developed and developing nations.
“We are allowing the idea to take hold that hundreds of millions of vaccines are being given in rich countries and that we are not starting in poor countries," Macron said.
Macron stressed that inequality in vaccine distribution would also be "politically unsustainable" as it’s paving the way for "a war of influence" over vaccines, referring to China and Russia, which already began supplying their vaccines to countries in Latin America and Africa.
"We’re not talking about billions of doses immediately, or billions and billions of euros," Macron said, adding that countries just need to "reallocate some tens of millions of doses" to Africa in particular "very quickly.”
Macron said it would be in the bloc’s “interest” to allocate a "tiny sample" of 4-5% of European vaccine supply, and vowed to take on big pharma companies not willing to "play the game of cooperation."
The French president has so far secured the support of German Chancellor Angela Merkel and hopes to convince "our American friends" who have "greater production capacity" to contribute to the effort.
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson is expected to pledge to donate most of the country's surplus vaccine supply to poorer nations in the G7 meeting, the British public broadcaster, the BBC, reported earlier on Friday.
The UK, which has the population of about 66 million, has ordered more than 400 million doses of various vaccines, so a surplus of doses will be available after all adults are vaccinated.