France donates COVID vaccines to Africa through UN program

·1 min read

GENEVA (AP) — France on Friday became the first rich country to donate COVID-19 vaccines to a developing nation through the U.N.'s jab rollout program for low- and middle-income countries, shipping more than 100,000 doses to Mauritania.

Leaders of the COVAX program hailed the French donation, which was announced by President Emmanuel Macron, and called on other rich countries to follow suit at a time of intense competition for short supplies of vaccines — as coronavirus infection counts are on the rise.

“We generally have the means to accelerate our solidarity by donating vaccines,” Macron told a World Health Organization event, announcing the donation to COVAX. "These AstraZeneca vaccines, as I am speaking to you, on their way to West Africa.”

Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, which helps run COVAX, hailed the “first batch” provided without charge to the program, which amounted to 105,600 doses for Mauritania. It said France will “ramp up its commitment (to COVAX) to at least 5% of its total doses by the end of 2021.”

Macron said France would donate at least 500,000 doses through mid-June to the program.

Gavi, a Geneva-based public-private partnership, said other countries have expressed interest in donations through COVAX.