STRASBOURG, Sept. 15 (Reuters) – The European Union will donate another 200 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine to the poorest countries and close the gaps in its own vaccination coverage, the EU executive director said on Wednesday.
Ursula von der Leyen told the European Parliament in a speech in Strasbourg that the EU’s first pandemic priority was to accelerate global vaccination, given that less than 1% of the doses administered globally had been in low-income countries.
The European Commission, he said, will donate 200 million doses to low-income countries by the middle of next year, in addition to the 250 million doses already promised.
The Commission president also said she saw “worrying divergences” between vaccination rates in EU member states, adding that the bloc had secured 1.8 billion additional vaccine doses to cover more initial and booster injections.
“Let’s do everything we can to make sure this doesn’t turn into an unvaccinated pandemic,” he said.
Von der Leyen said the European Union was establishing a health emergency response authority, designed to improve the bloc’s response to cross-border health threats.
He proposed on Wednesday that the EU invest 50 billion euros ($ 59.1 billion) by 2027 to improve its preparedness and resilience to future health threats.
“To make sure that no virus can turn a local epidemic into a global pandemic. There is no better return on investment than that,” he said.
($ 1 = 0.8457 euros)
Reporting by Philip Blenkinsop and Robin Emmott; edit by Foo Yun Chee
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