French President Emmanuel Macron has said that Europe and the United States should urgently allocate up to 5% of their current vaccine stock to countries whose vaccination campaigns have just started and in which China and Russia offer their vaccines to fill the void.
In an interview with the Financial Times via video call from the Elysee Palace, Macron said some African countries were buying Western vaccines such as those produced by AstraZeneca “at astronomical prices” – two or three times the price paid by the EU – while these are Chinese and Russian vaccines whose effectiveness against new strains of the virus is still uncertain.
“We help create the idea that hundreds of millions of vaccines are being applied in rich countries and that we don’t even start vaccination in poor countries,” Macron said ahead of a virtual G7 meeting scheduled for Friday (19) , with the leaders of the world’s largest economies, convened by British Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
“This is an unprecedented acceleration in global inequalities and it is also politically unsustainable, as it paves the way for a war of influence on vaccines,” Macron said. “We can see the Chinese and Russian strategy.”
Saying “we will apply all the pressure within our grasp,” the French president said it is crucial for pharmaceutical companies that produce vaccines to transfer technology to other countries in order to accelerate global production – and that ‘they are transparent on prices.
The concept of intellectual property is essential for innovation, said the French president, but if vaccine manufacturers do not cooperate, “the political question of intellectual property will inevitably be raised,” he said. “I don’t think this is the right discussion, it doesn’t help, but it will come back – this discussion about excessive profits due to vaccine shortage.”
Macron admitted that the EU took longer than the US to ensure the production and supply of vaccines for its own populations and admitted that the bloc faced an immunizer shortage, but said that he was leading a small part of the African dose of Africa vaccine chains: European supply chains will not harm the Union’s vaccination campaigns.
“The key is to act faster,” he said. “We are not talking about billions of doses right away, nor billions of euros. We are talking about allocating much faster [para a África] from 4% to 5% of the doses available to us. “
“It will not affect our vaccination campaigns. Each country should reserve a small number of doses that it has to transfer tens of millions, but very quickly, so that people on the ground can see what is going on, ”he added.
Macron has revealed that he has discussed the idea on several occasions with German Chancellor Angela Merkel. “She supports the idea, we agree,” he said, calling for “a fully European and cooperative initiative” and adding that he also hopes to convince the United States, where vaccine stocks are higher than in the European Union.
The French leader said the plan would be a test of the reality of multilateralism. “It’s not a question of vaccine diplomacy, it’s not a power game. It is a public health concern, ”he said, adding that he welcomed the global supply of Russian and Chinese vaccines, provided they are certified by scientists for use against the strains. appropriate virus.
“When there is a vaccine, it is unacceptable to reduce a person’s chances of survival depending on where they live.”
While implicitly acknowledging that the distribution of vaccines to developing countries is a diplomatic battle that Western countries are currently losing,
Macron said it is in the interest of all countries that wish to keep their borders open to expand vaccination programs beyond their own territory.
“It is in the interest of the French and Europeans. Today, more than 10 million of our fellow citizens have families living on the other side of the Mediterranean.
Macron, whose government has been criticized for the slow delivery of vaccines to France, insisted that the transfer of 3% to 5% of the vaccine stock to Africa would have no impact on the national program vaccination.
“It will not delay our vaccination schedule for a single day, given the way we use our doses,” he said. France has pledged to vaccinate all adults who want the vaccine by the end of the European summer this year.
According to the French president, if they do not help their neighbors in the Mediterranean region, the Middle East and the Balkans, European countries will never be able to reopen their borders, because if they did they would end up re-importing variants of coronaviruses resistant to their vaccines.