European Commission's von der Leyen increases target for COVID-19 dose-sharing to 700 million doses, focuses on global vaccine inequity

In her remarks at the Special Session of the World Health Assembly (WHA), European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen highlighted the importance of the multilateral framework and collective action as the only answer to fighting pandemics and announced that the EU plans to share at least 700 million COVID-19 vaccine doses by mid-2022 with lower- and middle-income countries. This commitment increases the EU’s dose-sharing target from its prior aim to share 500 million doses by mid-2022.

Von der Leyen welcomed the WHA's decision to begin negotiations on a pandemic treaty, as well as efforts to improve the International Health Regulations, to strengthen the WHO, and the negotiations that will begin next year on the establishment of a new Financial Intermediary Fund (FIF) for global health security and pandemic preparedness. She emphasized the urgency of responding to the new COVID-19 variant, Omicron, and thanked South Africa for its leadership and transparency. 

Von der Leyen also said the EU’s new dose-sharing target will be in addition to the EU support for the Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator (ACT-A), financing the initiative with €3.0 billion (US$3.4 billion) in funding and investing in vaccine manufacturing in Africa and South America. 

European Council President Charles Michel also spoke at the WHA, where he called on the assembly to make history amidst another wave of COVID-19 by providing the legal framework for sustainable solutions for future pandemics. He called for "an incremental change in our global health architecture" because "there is no silver bullet," nor are there easy solutions for managing global health threats. However, he said that we must apply boundless human ingenuity to ensure that in the next pandemic we have equitable access to vaccines and countermeasures to prevent the same inequality that we have seen in this pandemic. He also called for prevention through the One Health approach.

Speech transcript - European Commission

Speech transcript - European Council