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Norway to share Covid-19 vaccine with poorer countries
Norway has become one of the first countries in the world to explicitly commit to sharing Covid-19 vaccine doses with poorer countries at the same time as vaccinating its own citizens.
Dag-Inge Ulstein, Minister of International Development, said Norway would begin donating doses of vaccines to lower-income nations as soon as jabs suitable for the countries get approval from the European Medicines Agency.
Norway’s commitment follows a move from India this week to send vaccines under “grant assistance” to a number of neighbouring countries. The first shipments arrived on Wednesday in Bhutan and the Maldives.
“The Pharmacy of the World will deliver to overcome the COVID challenge,” Foreign Minister S. Jaishankar said on Twitter. Other nearby countries, including Myanmar, Bangladesh, Nepal and the Seychelles are also set to receive doses, described as gifts by some of the governments, soon.
Norway will donate doses in collaboration with the European Union, through the World Health Organization co-led Covax scheme, a mechanism aimed at distributing vaccines equitably around the globe.
Mr Ulstein told the Telegraph: “Norway will contribute to the fight against the global pandemic through donation of vaccines as soon as relevant candidates are approved.
“The distribution will be started gradually and in parallel to the current vaccination of the Norwegian population. We cannot wait until every citizen in rich countries is vaccinated before we start vaccinating people in the low-income countries.”
Norway has already started vaccinating its citizens with the Pfizer/BioNTech jab, but because of the requirement to store that vaccine at -70C it is understood that the government does not believe it is suitable for lower-income settings.