G7 leaders will agree to expand global production of Covid vaccines to provide the world with at least one billion doses through sharing and funding arrangements, Britain said Thursday.
The UK, which hosts the meeting of the great powers in the southwest of England, added that it would donate at least 100 million surplus doses over the next year, with five million in the coming weeks.
The commitment follows growing calls for wealthier countries to step up their efforts to share Covid-19 shots with less developed countries, with charities warning that the current situation is leading to “vaccine apartheid”.
Britain, which has orders for more than 400 million doses, has been criticized for not starting to make donations to poorer countries.
But on the eve of welcoming world leaders from the group of seven rich countries to their first summit in nearly two years, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson promised that would soon change.
“As a result of the success of the UK vaccine program we are now able to share some of our excess doses with those who need them,” he said.
“This will allow us to take a huge step to beat this pandemic for good.
“At the G7 summit, I hope my fellow leaders will make similar commitments so that together we can vaccinate the world and better recover from the coronavirus by the end of next year.”
A Downing Street statement said: “At the summit, world leaders are expected to announce that they will provide the world with at least one billion vaccine doses for the coronavirus through dose-sharing and funding, and outline a plan to expand vaccine production to achieve that goal. ”
The UK will donate five million doses by the end of September, starting in the coming weeks, mainly for use in the world’s poorest countries, Johnson’s office said.
Britain has also pledged to donate a further 95 million next year, including 25 million more by the end of 2021, it added.
About 80 percent of the injections go to the Covax program, which aims to ensure a fair distribution of vaccines around the world, while the rest is shared bilaterally.
The United States said Thursday it would donate 500 million jabs to 92 poor and lower middle-income countries.
Meanwhile, EU members have agreed to donate at least 100 million doses by the end of 2021, with France and Germany each providing 30 million.