France has pledged 100,000 doses of COVID vaccine doses to poorer countries through the WHO initiated COVAX programme amid the rising demands for the vaccines.
The COVAX facility is backed by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization (GAVI) and aims to secure 2 billion vaccine doses for lower-income countries by the end of 2021.
"France will inaugurate the European vaccine sharing mechanism with COVAX," an adviser to Prime Minister Emmanuel Macron said on Wednesday. "We very much hope that other countries will commit to physically sharing vaccines with COVAX."
The vaccines donated will most likely be AstraZeneca production and France has committed to sending 500,000 shots by June. The move comes after Macron called for EU countries to donate 5% of their vaccine supplies to other countries in need with the aim of staving off new waves of infection as well as to stop Russia and China from gaining a diplomatic advantage through the supply of their vaccines.
French officials had previously criticised developed countries for rushing to pledge themselves to COVAX in order to vaccinate their own population but had not tried to donate to countries in need.
COVAX had previously declared in March that they aimed to deliver 237 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine to 142 countries by May.