Oxford vaccine: Fergus Walsh on results and Macron’s comments
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President Macron’s relentless call for vaccine doses to be shared with developing countries across the world was lambasted as the French leader still struggles to speed up his own vaccine strategy at home.
The French President was accused of “double-talk” by French MEP Manon Aubry who claimed he was yet to eliminate patents on vaccine developments.
In an attack on the French leader and Brussels, she blasted: “Stop Macron’s double-talk on vaccines!
“If he really wants to make it a ‘global public good’, may France and the EU use the legal means at their disposal to finally bring down patents.”
The President said he believed the imbalance between access to vaccinations across the world was “politically unsustainable” and could fuel a “war of influence over vaccines”.
Mr Macron also issued a warning over the roles played by China and Russia in offering their own inoculations to countries facing supply gaps.
Speaking to the Financial Times last week, Mr Macron said: “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.
“It’s an unprecedented acceleration of global inequality and it’s politically unsustainable because it’s paving the way for a war of influence over vaccines.
“You can see the Chinese strategy, and the Russian strategy too.”
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The Frenchman vowed to clamp down on western vaccine manufacturers, warning: “We will apply all the pressure we can.”
Despite France’s vaccination scheme lagging behind that of Britain or the US, Mr Macron said diverting a small share of doses to Africa is an acceptable move.
“The key is to move quicker,” he said.
“We are not talking about billions of doses immediately, or billions and billions of euros.
“It’s about much more rapidly allocating four or five percent of the doses we have.
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“It won’t change our vaccination campaigns, but each country should set aside a small number of the doses it has to transfer tens of millions of them, but very fast, so that people on the ground see it happening.”
Mr Macron claimed he had the support of German Chancellor Angela Merkel to start sharing the bloc’s vaccines with Africa.
He added: “She supports it and we are in agreement.”
It would be a “fully European and co-operative initiative”, the French leader claimed.
It comes as the World Health Organisation’s global vaccine-sharing scheme COVAX delivered its first COVID-19 shots on Wednesday, as the race to get doses to the world’s poorest people and tame the pandemic accelerates.
Almost a year after the WHO first described the novel coronavirus as a global pandemic, a flight carrying 600,000 doses of the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine produced by the Serum Institute of India landed in Ghana’s capital Accra.
Local representatives of the WHO and the United Nations children’s agency UNICEF described the vaccines’ “momentous” arrival as a critical step in bringing the pandemic to an end.
“The only way out of this crisis is to ensure that vaccinations are available for all,” Anne-Claire Dufay of UNICEF Ghana and WHO country representative Francis Kasolo said in a joint statement.
The delivery comes eight months after the launch of the COVAX initiative, aimed at pooling funds from wealthier countries and non-profits to develop a vaccine and distribute it equitably around the world.
The shots, part of an initial tranche of deliveries for several low and middle-income countries, will be used by Ghana to start a vaccination drive from March 2 that will prioritise frontline health workers and others at high risk of infection.
“The first segment of the population that will receive the 600,000 doses will be health workers, adults 60 years and over, people with underlying health conditions,” the government said on Wednesday after health minister-designate Kwaku Agyeman Manu received the vaccines at the airport.
Some senior government officials, teachers, security personnel and essential workers in Accra and the country’s second-largest city Kumasi, will also be vaccinated.
More than 80,700 coronavirus infections have been confirmed in Ghana and 580 people have died, according to a Reuters tally.
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