EU pledges 100 mln euros for vaccine rollout in Africa

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen on Friday pledged 100 million euros (121 million U.S. dollars) in humanitarian assistance to support the rollout of vaccination campaigns in Africa.

In a statement, the European Union (EU) said this funding will support the vaccination campaigns in countries with critical humanitarian needs and fragile health systems. It will contribute to ensuring the cold chains, rollout registration programs, training of medical and support staff as well as logistics.

The announcement came hot on the heels of another pledge to double to one billion euros the EU’s contribution to COVAX, the global initiative to secure fair and equitable access to safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines in low and middle-income countries, mostly in Africa.

“We’ve always been clear that the pandemic won’t end until everyone is protected globally. The EU stands ready to support the vaccination strategies in our African partners with experts and deliveries of medical supplies at the request of the African Union,” von der Leyen said in the statement.

She said Europe was exploring potential support to boost local production capacities of vaccines under licensing arrangements in Africa to get them closer to those that most need it.

European Commissioner for International Partnerships Jutta Urpilainen said that Europe had already mobilized more than 8 billion euros to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic in Africa.

According to information released by WHO on Friday, 251 candidate vaccines are being developed worldwide — 70 of them in clinical trials — in countries including Germany, China, Russia, Britain, and the United States.