More than 1 billion doses of Covid-19 vaccine produced in the European Union have been shipped elsewhere in the past 10 months, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said on Monday.
More than 150 countries worldwide, including Japan, Turkey, Britain, South Africa and Brazil had received shipments, von der Leyen said in a written statement hailing the milestone.
As inoculation rates climb – three quarters of EU adults are fully vaccinated, according to the commission – and virus-spreading measures are loosened in much of the bloc, the EU says it is shifting its focus to the global distribution of vaccines.
The EU has also committed to donating at least 500 million doses to vulnerable countries in the coming months, the German head of the EU executive branch underlined.
Von der Leyen said the bloc had delivered 87 million doses to low and middle-income countries through the COVAX vaccine purchase initiative.
COVAX’s aim is to provide 2 billion doses this year, but fewer than 10 per cent have been shipped so far.
Almost half of the world’s population has had at least one dose of Covid-19 vaccine, but only 2.7 per cent of people in low-income countries have, according to Oxford University’s Our World in Data project.
The EU has been criticized at times by the African Union and World Health Organization at times for its vaccine-sharing policies.
The commission recently announced an aim together with the United States to have 70 per cent of the world vaccinated by late next year.
“The EU is doing its part,” von der Leyen stressed on Monday.