LONDON – The G-7 leaders are expected to pledge 1 billion doses of coronavirus vaccine to poorer nations this weekend to allay concerns about vaccine nationalism.
The world’s most advanced economies – as the G-7 defines itself – have been criticized for not sharing more vaccines with countries that have fewer resources. For example, the United States has a legal requirement that it cannot send vaccines abroad until it has reached satisfactory levels of vaccination within its borders. The UK and the EU have also received similar criticism.
However, the G-7 countries – the US, UK, Canada, France, Germany, Italy and Japan – want to end the pandemic next year and will increase their individual contributions, according to a statement released by the UK government on Thursday.
The UK already announced on Thursday that it would donate at least 100 million surplus coronavirus vaccine doses within the next year. The United States also announced earlier this week that it would donate 500 million doses of the Pfizer BioNTech shot to low-income countries.
On Thursday, EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, who will represent the EU in the G-7, also said: “We are signing the G-7’s goal of ending the pandemic by 2022 through increased global vaccination.”
Sharing vaccines is described by health officials as the only way to end the pandemic completely. Because as long as the virus exists, it can mutate and spread around the world. At the same time, measures like lockdowns and social distancing are likely to continue to affect global economic performance.
According to the Johns Hopkins University, there have been more than 174 million cases of Covid-19 and more than 3.7 million deaths worldwide since the pandemic broke out in early 2020.
The pandemic is at the center of discussions among G-7 leaders, whose three-day summit in Cornwall, England, kicks off on Friday.
In this context, the US surprised other heads of state and government last month by supporting the waiver of intellectual property rights for Covid vaccines.
Health experts, human rights groups and international medical charities argue that this is vital to urgently addressing the global vaccine shortage amid the pandemic and ultimately avoiding a prolongation of the health crisis. However, vaccine makers say this could disrupt the flow of raw materials and result in less investment in health research by smaller biotech innovators.
This opinion is also shared by some EU leaders, in particular French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.