Before the G7, Macron calls on the United States and Europe to distribute vaccines to poor countries

French President Emmanuel Macron on Thursday called on the United States and European countries to set aside up to 5% of the current vaccine supply to developing countries, a day before Friday’s group of seven world leaders, which is expected to focus on the global response to coronavirus. pandemic.

“If we allow the idea that hundreds of millions of vaccines are manufactured in rich countries and that we do not start in poor countries, that idea is unsustainable,” Macron said in an interview with the Financial Times, suggesting that Americans and Europeans adopt that type of vaccine diplomacy that China and Russia have begun to deploy.

The G7 summit in Cornwall, UK, will be Joe Biden’s first major presidential event on the global stage, where he is expected to announce that the US will soon start releasing $ 4 billion for an international effort to strengthen the purchase and distribution of coronavirus vaccines to poor nations. house officials.

Biden will also encourage G7 partners to fulfill their commitments to COVAX, an initiative of the World Health Organization to improve access to vaccines, according to a senior administrative official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to preview Biden’s announcement.

Former President Donald Trump refused to participate in the COVAX initiative because of his ties to the WHO, the Geneva-based agency that Trump accused of covering up China’s flaws in dealing with the virus in the early days of the public health crisis. Trump pulled the United States out of the WHO, but Biden moved quickly after his inauguration last month to rejoin and confirmed that the United States would contribute to COVAX.

The US $ 4 billion funding was approved by Congress in December and will be distributed until 2022.

The United States is committed to working through COVAX to ensure “fair distribution of vaccines and funding globally,” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki told reporters on Thursday.

It remains to be seen how G7 allies will respond to Biden’s calls for increased international cooperation on vaccine distribution, given that the United States has refused to participate in the Trump initiative and that there are growing demands on the Biden administration to distribute some U.S.-made vaccine supplies. abroad.

‘Wild uneven and unfair’

Earlier this week, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres sharply criticized the “wildly uneven and unfair” distribution of Covid-19 vaccines, noting that ten countries have administered 75% of all vaccinations.

Last month, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Biden also raised the prospect that Canada would receive the vaccine from pharmaceutical giant Pfizer’s facility in Kalamazoo, Michigan, according to a senior Canadian government official who spoke to the Associated Press on condition of anonymity to describe a private conversation.

Canada has received all its Pfizer doses from a corporate facility in Puurs, Belgium, and has had supply disruptions.

But Biden, who announced last week that the United States would have enough vaccines by the end of the summer to inoculate 300 million people, is currently focused on ensuring that every American is inoculated, administration officials say.

In his first national security memorandum last month, the president called on his administration to develop a framework for donating surplus vaccines when there is sufficient supply in the United States.

The COVAX program has already missed its own goal of initiating coronavirus vaccinations in poor countries while rolling out shots in rich countries. WHO says COVAX needs $ 5 billion by 2021.

Guterres said on Wednesday that 130 countries had not received a single dose of the vaccine, declaring that “at this critical moment, vaccine capital is the biggest moral test before the global community”.

The group with seven industrialized countries is the United States, Germany, Japan, the United Kingdom, France, Canada and Italy. Friday’s meeting with G7, the first of Biden’s presidency, is practically held.

In addition to discussing vaccine distribution, Biden also plans to use the meeting to discuss the G7 countries’ collective competitiveness and economic challenges facing China, according to the White House.

Biden is also scheduled to deliver a virtual address to the Munich Security Conference on Friday before traveling to Michigan to visit Pfizer’s vaccine manufacturing facility.

( Jowharwith AP)