Delivering a statement on Monday, von der Leyen outlined the scale of the EU’s Covid vaccine distribution scheme. It has so far shipped doses to more than 150 countries.
“Very clearly, the European Union is the largest exporter of Covid-19 vaccines,” she stated. This marks the bloc’s “important milestone” of having delivered “over one billion” doses in the past 10 months.
The EU has been working to send Covid vaccines around the globe since December 2020. This was primarily to larger nations, but also to smaller, poorer ones that are vulnerable to the virus.
The milestone has been passed despite the EU having introduced a certain mechanism. It monitors and potentially limits vaccine exports, with the measure being extended from an initial September deadline to the end of 2021.
Von der Leyen’s statement was made ahead of next week’s G20 summit meeting in Rome. She hopes to encourage attendees to support efforts “to beat the pandemic” by joining the bloc in its work distributing Covid vaccine doses, to countries that need assistance.
According to the EC, the EU is currently sending at least every second dose produced in the EU abroad. Last month, the bloc agreed to send a further 200 million doses to Africa and to low-income countries. The initiative is designed to bolster global inoculation rates, with data showing less than 50% of the world’s population has received at least one dose of a Covid vaccine.