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ONE reaction to the AU EU Summit – Europe ignores African leaders call on waiving vaccine patents

Brussels – African and European leaders met for the first time since 2017 for the 6th AU EU summit in Brussels. As part of this, the EU also announced half of the Global Gateway package, potentially worth €150 billion, would be allocated to Africa flagship initiatives focusing on health, transport and education. The EU committed €100m to support the African Medicines Agency over 5 years, €500 million from the European Investment Bank to strengthen health systems and €425 million on a vaccine delivery package. 

At a side event, the WHO announced the expansion of its tech transfer hub, Egypt, Kenya, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa and Tunisia will be the first recipients of technology from the COVID-19 mRNA technology transfer hub.

Edwin Ikhuoria, Africa Executive Director at The ONE Campaign, reacted: “Some of the results of this Summit are seriously frustrating. Sticking points like temporarily waiving vaccine IP patents make us wonder why we are still arguing two years down the line when this really comes down to people’s lives. Are the lives of Africans really worth less than the impact of innovation and profit of pharmaceutical companies? 

“The EU has taken some welcome steps like placing half of the Global Gateway investments in Africa and recognising the importance of Africa’s manufacturing needs, strengthening health care systems and investments in vaccines delivery. But these gestures, even if welcome, failed to listen properly to what Africa needs. 

“The overall outcome is disappointing. The incremental results we are seeing in the conclusions fall short of the decisive action needed to put an end to the pandemic.”

Emily Wigens, EU Director at The ONE Campaign, continued: “The EU certainly had a case of selective hearing during the Summit and dodged a number of difficult decisions. Ahead of the Summit, African leaders were clear about the need for wealthy nations to step up with $100bn in Special Drawing Rights to support the continent’s economic recovery. Instead of grasping this once-in-a-generation opportunity to put significant new funding behind the partnership, Member States largely ignored it. 

With just 11.5% of the African population fully vaccinated, the bottom line is that this Summit did little to address the immediate need to get shots in arms. It is vital that G7 leaders take urgent steps to address this, providing significant new financing for global access to COVID-19 vaccines and medicines, when they meet next week.”