Friday February 19, during the virtual summit of the G7, Emmanuel Macron proposed to his partners to make an emergency donation of 13 million free doses of anti-Covid-19 vaccine intended for 6.5 million African caregivers. They are on the front line, on a continent where epidemics such as Ebola fever reappear. It remains to convince the other countries to follow in the footsteps of France, which will be discussed this Thursday at the extraordinary European summit.
Not so easy, alone or almost for the moment – “Ursula von der Leyen, President of the Commission, and Chancellor Angela Merkel having given their support to the initiative”, recognizes the Elysee. On Wednesday, the president’s collaborators made more phone calls to the capitals of the 27 and the work of persuasion – complicated in these private backstage videoconferences! – will continue this Thursday.
Obviously, some are reluctant to deprive themselves of such a quantity of vials while public opinion is already groaning at the slowness of the vaccination campaign. The Macron team therefore plays on the humanitarian and pragmatic fiber at the same time, stressing that the virus will not be stopped if only the rich half of the world population is immune.
In addition, Paris, anxious to appear in Africa in a different light from that of the Barkhane military operation in the Sahel, insists on the geopolitical stake for Europeans. On the one hand, we note at the Elysee, “we hear more and more African voices criticizing Europeans for having dried up the vaccine market”, increasing its price at the same time. On the other hand, many countries are tempted by Russian or Chinese vaccines… two powers which are constantly increasing their influence in Africa. After mask diplomacy, vaccine diplomacy has a future.