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Macron calls for up to 5% of Covid vaccines to go to Africa

French President says rich nations should give Covid-19 vaccines to poorer countries in an interview ahead of the G7 video meeting

French president Emmanuel Macron has called on the world's richest countries to send between 3% and 5% of their Covid-19 vaccine supply to poorer countries, especially those in Africa.

“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,” Mr Macron said in an interview with the Financial Times.

“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,” Mr Macron said, speaking ahead of a G7 video link meeting on Friday, February 19, led by UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson. “You can see the Chinese strategy and the Russian strategy too.”

He insisted the aid for the African continent would not affect vaccination strategies in richer nations.

“It won’t change our vaccination campaigns, but each country should set aside a small number of the doses," he said, adding action should be taken rapidly "so that people on the ground see it happening".

Mr Macron said German Chancellor Angela Merkel agreed that this should be a concerted European effort.

His Elysée office later said, "We very much hope that tomorrow [during the G7] the United States will show a greater commitment," in the Covax system for the allocation of vaccines to poor countries, saying also "the Chinese often talk about their adherence to multilateralism, they have the opportunity with Covax to prove it."

The White House has announced it would provide $4billion to Covax.

Covax — the global mechanism put in place to equally distribute vaccines — said that the majority of first-round deliveries would only start in March. In response, the World Health Organisation Director-General, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, called for leaders to increase their countries' contributions to Covax.

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