No one is safe until everyone is safe, according to the Socialist group in the European parliament.
It says this was supposed to be the lesson the world drew from the Covid-19 pandemic, especially towards developing countries and low income countries, which have been unable to afford and access vaccines.
Reality, unfortunately, looks different, says the group.
So far, less than 4% of African citizens have been vaccinated. The World Health Organisation’s target of 10% by October, only managed by 15 countries in Africa, was reached as of 1 October.
While we welcome that the EU has, to date, mobilised 40 billion euros towards the global response to Covid-19 with partner countries, the S&D Group urges EU member states to honour their pledges and contributions so that the imperative vaccinations roll-out.
S&D co-ordinator in the development committee, Udo Bullmann, said: “The EU has pledged to donate 500 million doses cumulatively to low income countries, especially in Africa, of which 250 million are meant to be delivered by the end of year. But only 40 million doses have been delivered so far (as of 30 September 2021). These contributions will go a long way towards reaching the global target of 40% by the end of year. If anything, the commitments will only be little more than half of the required 800 million doses for Africa to achieve heard immunity.”
“Even though our societies in Europe can open up again, we must not forget that Covid-19 remains to be a reality, especially for the most vulnerable. We cannot leave our partners in the Global South alone but must continue vaccination efforts around the world at the same pace the EU managed to roll out vaccination plans.”
“If we fail to fully eradicate the virus, we risk that further mutations could harm our partners, and us within the EU as well.”
“To end this pandemic, we must increase donations of vaccines from the EU and its member states, we must further support COVAX, and we must build up capacities in the Global South to increase manufacturing capacity on the ground.”
“We also urge a co-ordinated approach with the Commission through vaccine sharing mechanisms, with a defined timeline to ensure that targets are met as soon as possible.”
S&D coordinator in the committee on international trade, Kathleen Van Brempt, added: “The unequal access to vaccine procurement contracts is grotesque. While the G7 will have an estimated surplus of 1.2 billion vaccines by the end of this year, COVAX has only managed to deliver less than 300 million vaccines. Member states should commit to sharing vaccines now, in order to avoid doses expiring.”
“But Europe needs to realise that charity is not a structural solution in tackling this pandemic. If we want to ensure the health of our citizens, we will need to address the shortage of vaccines in developing countries. To do so, we need to make sure African countries have the opportunity to secure own contracts with vaccine manufacturers, and help them build manufacturing capacity.”