COVID-19: G7 leaders to boost vaccine commitment to poorer countries

The leaders of the world”s richest nations are holding virtual talks on Friday on how to speed up the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines, and how to share them more fairly with the poorest countries.

Earlier this week, the United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres slammed the distribution of jabs as “wildly uneven,” with just 10 countries accounting for three-quarters of all vaccinations.

According to an EU official who spoke anonymously, European Commission President Ursula Von der Leyen is to announce at the meeting that the bloc will double its commitment to the World Health Organization’s COVAX programme to €1 billion.

The Commission chief is also expected to unveil an additional €100 million to support vaccination campaigns in Africa in partnership with the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

This comes a day after French President Emmanuel Macron called on Europe and the United States to allocate 3-5 per cent of current vaccine supplies to developing countries.

He suggested that the West should adopt the kind of vaccine diplomacy that China and Russia have been deploying in Africa and the Balkans.

US President Joe Biden is also due to tell the G7 meeting that the United States will also double its pledge to COVAX to reach $4 billion (€3.3 billion).

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who is hosting the G7 videoconference, is expected to pledge that the UK will donate most of its vaccine surplus to COVAX.

But details on a timeframe and on the number of doses involved remain scant, as Euronews’ UK correspondent Tadhg Enright reports from London in the video player above.

WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus issued a call for greater solidarity last month warning that “the world is on the brink of a catastrophic moral failure — and the price of this failure will be paid with lives and livelihoods in the world’s poorest countries.”

The WHO is hoping the boost of vaccine solidarity will ensure that vaccination of health workers and older people is underway in all countries f the world within the first 100 days of the year.

According to Our World in Data, which tracks COVID-19 vaccinations, fewer than 195 million doses had been administered around the world by February 18. More than 100 million of the doses were administered in Canada, the EU, Israel, the US and the UK.

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