BRUSSELS - Over one billion COVID-19 vaccines produced in the European Union have been exported to more than 150 countries since December 2020, the head of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen said on Monday.
"Very clearly, the European Union is the largest exporter of COVID-19 vaccines," von der Leyen said in a statement, noting the EU has exported as many vaccines as it has delivered to EU citizens.
The EU begun exporting vaccines at the start of the global rollout in December 2020, whereas other major producers such as the United States did not, and restricted exports for months.
However, EU exports have been mainly directed to bigger economies, with Japan, Turkey and Britain among the main recipients, because they had supply contracts with vaccine makers which produced jabs in the EU.
Vaccines exported or donated by the EU to poorer nations are a small portion of total exports, but the EU plans to boost its donations in coming months with the goal of distributing at least 500 million COVID-19 shots to the most vulnerable countries, von der Leyen said.