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EU joins WHO's coronavirus vaccine alliance

August 31, 2020

The bloc will dedicate €400 million for COVAX, a program to provide global access to an eventual COVID-19 vaccine. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen confirmed the news, which was welcomed by the WHO.

A vaccine volunteer receives an injection in Johannesburg, South Africa
Image: picture-alliance/AP Photo/S. Sibeko

The European Union announced Monday it is joining the coronavirus vaccine alliance COVAX, an initiative led by the World Health Organization (WHO).

The European Commission said it was allotting €400 million ($478 million) in support of the program.

Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said the objective is to work collectively "in purchasing future vaccines to the benefit of low and middle income countries."

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"I'm confident this will bring us closer to our goal — beating this virus together — because one thing is clear: we will not be safe until everyone, whether here in Europe, or out there in the world, is safe."

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She added that "the detailed terms and conditions for the EU's participation and contribution will be worked out in the coming days and weeks."

2 billion doses available to all countries

The COVAX initiative aims to acquire two billion doses of any potential COVID-19 shots from several vaccine makers by the end of 2021. In addition, its goal is to make it available to all countries across the globe.

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO director-general, welcomed the financial support. "Big thanks to the @EU_Commission for their contribution to the COVAX facility and for standing firm on their commitment to multilateralism," Tedros tweeted.

Activists have previously warned that without significant efforts to hold political, pharmaceutical and health leaders to account, any vaccines that might be developed could end up being hoarded by rich nations.

jsi/rs (AP, AFP, Reuters)