Von der Leyen says doses will be delivered by middle of next year, as poor countries lag far behind West in vaccine availability

The European Union will deliver 200 million vaccine doses to Africa and low-income nations by mid- 2022, on top of 250 million vaccine doses already pledged, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said Wednesday.

“Our first and most urgent priority is to speed up global vaccination,” von der Leyen told European parliamentarians in a meeting chamber nearly empty because of continued virus regulations. Von der Leyen said the bloc was also investing 1 billion euros ($1.2 billion) to increase vaccine production in Africa.

African health officials say they need just under 800 million doses to vaccinate 60% of the continent’s population. As of last week, 145 million doses had been procured, according to the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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