The European Union has said it will double its contribution to the World Health Organization's equitable vaccine sharing programme, Covax, to 1 billion euros. It comes amid a flurry of pledges from the G7 group of world's richest nations to boost efforts to ensure developing nations are not left out of the global vaccination drive.
EU chief Ursula von der Leyen declared the funding boost and pledged a further 100 million euros to support the fight against Covid in Africa in a videolink appearance at Friday's G7 summit, hosted by Britain.
The move comes as world powers look to ramp up support for poorer nations in the face of accusations that rich countries are hoarding vaccines and leaving other parts of the globe behind.
The Covax sharing scheme aims to procure and distribute coronavirus vaccines for the most vulnerable 20 percent in every country, allowing poorer states to catch up with the vaccination rush by dozens of wealthy countries.
G7 leaders agreed on Friday to "intensify cooperation" in response to the coronavirus pandemic and increase funding commitments for the roll-out of vaccines in the world's poorest countries to 6 billion euros.
"Today, with increased financial commitments of over 2.5 billion euros to ACT-A and Covax, collective G7 support totals 6 billion euros," the elite club comprising Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the US said in a joint statement.
Germany is to donate 1.5 billion euros to boost the vaccine roll-out in the world's poorest countries, increasing an earlier contribution of 600 million euros.
"Today we want to make clear: we stand with the poorest countries. Germany is providing a further 1.5 billion euros for Covax, WHO and others," Finance Minister Olaf Scholz said in a statement.
Earlier on Friday, French President Emmanuel Macron proposed that Western countries transfer three to five percent of their stock of Covid-19 vaccines to Africa, pledging that France would share 5 percent of its own vaccine stocks regardless of whether other countries join in.