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EU Exports 1B COVID-19 Shots  10/18 06:50


   BRUSSELS (AP) -- The European Union's top official said Monday that the bloc 
has now exported over 1 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines to the rest of the 

   EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said the vaccines have been 
sent to over 150 nations, making the 27-member bloc the largest exporter of the 
vaccines in the world, to nations including Japan, Britain, South Africa and 

   Von der Leyen announced that, on top of the exports, the EU will donate at 
least half a billion doses to middle- and lower-income countries that are 
affected most by the pandemic.

   She insisted other nations need to increase their effort, too, and she will 
use next week's G20 summit meeting in Rome to drum up support.

   "We know that other countries also have to step up," she said. "That's the 
only way to beat the pandemic."

   Even though some shipments were briefly stopped from leaving the bloc in 
March to make sure big pharma companies respected their contracts, the EU has 
been largely open to exporting, especially compared with some other nations 
like the United States and Britain.

   Von der Leyen said that at least every second dose produced in the EU is 
sent abroad.

   Now, she said, combined with the efforts of U.S. President Joe Biden, "we 
aim for a global vaccination rate of 70 percent by next year."

   The group Our World In Data estimates that 47.6% of the world population has 
had at least one dose of the vaccine. However, it said there is a sharp 
contrast with low-income nations, where only 2.7% of people have received at 
least one dose. It lays bare an acute sense of vaccine inequality.

   The EU has said that ramping up COVID-19 vaccinations around the world is 
the bloc's No. 1 priority right now and already last month made a commitment to 
send 200 million more vaccine doses to Africa and other low-income nations.

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