The  bloc’s chief Ursula von der Leyen said on Monday,  The European Union  has exported “over one billion” doses of Covid-19 vaccines in the past 10 months.

She  said, announcing the “important milestone” in a brief broadcast and statement “Very clearly, the European Union is the largest exporter of Covid-19 vaccines”.

Von der Leyen said that 87 million of the doses had been funnelled through the WHO-led Covax scheme to mid and low income countries.Most of the exports are orders paid for by other countries for Covid-19 vaccine doses manufactured in the EU.

Von der Leyen said that, separate from the export figure, “the EU will donate in the next months at least 500 million doses to the most vulnerable countries”.

The European Union, the United States, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Singapore and Japan are all among those to have more than half of their populations fully vaccinated. Many  countries in Africa and other places such as Afghanistan, Egypt, Myanmar and Syria have less than 10 % of their people inoculated.

The European Union, which has 65.6 % of its population fully inoculated according to an AFP tally of official statistics, has been stepping up exports of vaccines.

Only one shipment  a 250,000-dose consignment of AstraZeneca meant for Australia   has been blocked under the scheme, back in April.”We have exported as much as we delivered to EU citizens. Indeed, at least every second vaccine produced in Europe is exported.”

So too is the United States, which has 57 % fully jabbed. President Joe Biden said last week his government was raising its donations to Africa to a total 67 million doses.

The European Union has in place a vaccine export control mechanism under which doses to be sent abroad have to be first approved by Brussels and the member state in which they are produced.

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