Leaders of the G7 Wealthy Democracy Group have pledged to increase supplies of Covid-19 vaccines to developing countries, though divisions remain over how quickly the West should share its doses.
In a virtual G7 meeting hosted by British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Friday, leaders increased their pledges to the WHO-led Covax global vaccination initiative to $ 7.5 billion.
Countries agreed on the hour-45-minute call to share surplus vaccines with the developing world, and US leader Joe Biden, speaking at his first major international meeting in as president, pledged an additional $ 4 billion for the Covax program, with $ 2. billion to be paid immediately.
The new US president also reaffirmed his commitment to tackling climate change, creating what one official called “a warm glow” around the meeting and a renewed sense of optimism about multilateral cooperation.
As the call drew to a close, Biden stepped in to mark the passage of Trump’s acrimonious era. According to one observer, Biden told the group, “I knew a guy who said, ‘I just don’t understand you, I understand you too much.’ I understand you too well.
Justin Trudeau, described as “dishonest” and “weak” by Donald Trump during a bitter G7 summit in 2018, summed up the new relaxed mood by taking a selfie during the video call.
Ahead of the video meeting, Emmanuel Macron, President of France, told the Financial Times that the West should urgently allocate up to 5% of its current vaccine supplies to developing countries where Covid inoculation campaigns have barely started and that China and Russia are proposing. to close the gap.
However, as the United States increased its financial support for Covax, it rejected Macron’s call to share doses before he completed his own nationwide vaccination campaign.
“Our current goal is to vaccinate Americans, to get gunfire here,” a US official said ahead of the meeting. Another official said Biden had asked staff to explore options for donating “surplus” vaccines “once there is sufficient supply” to meet domestic demand.
Steffen Seibert, spokesperson for Angela Merkel, said Germany has already agreed to heed Macron’s call to provide more support to the rest of the world. “We have reached an agreement in principle with the French president that the European countries will give the poorest countries which have not yet received a lot of vaccines some of our stocks.”
Johnson, who will host a G7 summit in Cornwall in June, also urged leaders to step up efforts to vaccinate the developing world against Covid-19 and support a new 100-day target for vaccine development against future diseases emerging.
He said there was “no point” in the West in vaccinating its citizens if large parts of the rest of the world had not received adequate supplies of vaccines.
The UK has ordered more than 400 million doses of various Covid-19 vaccines, meaning there will be plenty left after all adults have been inoculated. A UK government official said more than half of the country’s excessive doses will go to Covax.
Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, told the G7 that the EU would double its financial contribution to Covax to € 1 billion.
Von der Leyen, who has grappled with criticism of the EU’s vaccine purchasing program, has been a leading voice calling for a fair distribution of jab supplies around the world.
European countries have also made direct contributions to the Covax program. Germany said on Friday it would contribute an additional € 1.5 billion for vaccines, diagnostics and medicines around the world.
Downing Street also said the G7 are united in condemning the recent coup in Myanmar and the detention of Alexei Navalny in Russia. The leaders agreed to engage with China “to support a fair and mutually beneficial global economic system.