‘We need more’: UN joins criticism of G7 vaccine pledge
CARBIS BAY, England – A Group of Seven plan to donate 1 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccine to poorest countries lacks ambition, is far too slow and shows Western leaders are not yet on top of the fight against the worst public health crisis in a century says Friday.
While the head of the United Nations welcomed this decision, he even said that more was needed. Antonio Guterres warned that if people in developing countries were not vaccinated quickly, the virus could mutate further and become resistant to new vaccines.
âWe need more than that,â he said of the G7 plan. âWe need a global immunization plan. We must act with logic, with a sense of urgency and with the priorities of a war economy, and we are still a long way from achieving this. “
US President Joe Biden and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson took advantage of the G7 summit in England to announce the donation of 500 million and 100 million vaccines respectively for the poorest nations in the world.
Canada is set to pledge to share up to 100 million doses and more pledges could follow after Johnson urged G7 leaders to help immunize nearly 8 billion people worldwide against the coronavirus by the end of next year.
But health and poverty activists said that while the donations were a step in the right direction, Western leaders had failed to understand that exceptional efforts were needed to defeat the virus. Distribution assistance was also needed, they said.
Former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, who pushed for rich countries to share more of the cost of immunizing developing countries, said the G7 commitments were more akin to “shopping around the world. begging “than a real solution.
âIt’s a catastrophic failure if we can’t leave within the next week or twoâ¦ with a plan that rids the world of COVID now that we have a vaccine,â he told Reuters.
Alex Harris of Wellcome, a London-based science and health charity, challenged the G7 to show the political leadership the crisis demanded.
âWhat the world needs are vaccines now, not later this year,â he said. âWe urge the G7 leaders to step up their ambition. “
COVID-19 has ravaged the global economy, with infections reported in more than 210 countries and territories since the first cases were identified in China in December 2019.
The race to end a pandemic that has killed an estimated 3.9 million people and sowed social and economic destruction will be at the forefront of the three-day summit which began on Friday in the English seaside resort of Carbis Bay.
British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab has warned that other countries are using vaccines as diplomatic tools to gain influence. Britain and the United States have said their donations will come without conditions.
Vaccination efforts so far are strongly correlated with wealth: the United States, Europe, Israel and Bahrain are far ahead of other countries. A total of 2.2 billion people have been vaccinated according to data from Johns Hopkins University.
As most people need two doses of the vaccine, and possibly boosters to fight emerging variants, charity Oxfam said the world would need 11 billion doses to end the pandemic.
“If the best G7 leaders can manage is to donate a billion doses of vaccine, then this summit will have been a failure,” said Anna Marriott, head of health policy at Oxfam.
Oxfam also called on G7 leaders to support an intellectual property waiver behind vaccines.
French President Emmanuel Macron has said intellectual property rights should not hinder access to vaccines during a pandemic, appearing to support Biden on the matter.
Possession of the vaccine?
But the pharmaceutical industry objected, saying it would stifle innovation and do little to increase supplies. Britain, which has supported the Oxford-AstraZeneca non-profit project, said a patent waiver was not necessary.
Of the 100 million UK snapshots, 80 million will go to the COVAX program led by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the rest will be shared bilaterally with countries in need.
Johnson echoed Biden in calling on his fellow executives to make similar commitments and on drug companies to embrace the nonprofit model during the pandemic. The US gift of Pfizer shots will be provided at cost.
The UK doses will come from stock it has already purchased for its national program and will come from suppliers Oxford-AstraZeneca, Pfizer-BioNTech, Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen, Moderna and others.
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