Leaders of the Group of Seven (G7) economic powers, which control just under half of the world’s economy, agreed on Friday to “intensify cooperation” in response to the coronavirus pandemic and increase funding for vaccine rollouts in the world’s poorest countries to 7.5 billion dollars.
Days after the UN sounded the alarm over gaping injustices in the first rollout of vaccines between rich and poor countries, G7 leaders who held a virtual meeting on Friday agreed to increase financial commitments for global vaccination efforts.
“Today, with increased financial commitments of over $ 4 billion to ACT-A and COVAX, collective G7 support amounts to $ 7.5 billion,” said the elite club of Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and United States in a joint statement.
However, many leaders, under pressure over their vaccination campaigns at home, were reluctant to say exactly how much vaccine they were willing to share with developing countries, or when.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said after G-7 leaders held a virtual meeting that fair distribution of vaccines was “a fundamental issue of justice”.
But she added: “No vaccination meeting in Germany will be jeopardized.”
French President Emmanuel Macron set a firmer target, saying that Europe and the United States should devote up to five percent of their current Covid-19 vaccine supply to the poorest countries “very quickly”.
After this year’s first meeting, which was held at a distance due to the pandemic, G7 leaders said they would accelerate the global development of vaccines and deployment “and support” affordable and fair access to vaccines “and treatments for Covid-19.
Macron called on Western countries to deliver 13 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines to African governments “as soon as possible”.
“The African continent has 6.5 million health workers. It requires 13 million doses to protect them and make their health systems bearable,” he told the Munich Security Conference via video from Paris.
He said this would represent only 0.43 percent of the West’s vaccine stock, but would be a boon for African countries fighting to protect their citizens.
“If we, Europeans and Americans, can deliver these 13 million doses as soon as possible, it’s extremely worth it, and it’s worth it for our credibility,” Macron said.
Russia, China will benefit if the US, Europe do not deliver
He warned that if rich countries promise doses that do not reach another six to twelve months, “our African friends will be pressured by their populations and rightly buy doses from the Chinese, Russians or directly from laboratories.”
“And the power of the West, Europeans and Americans will only be a concept and not a reality,” he said.
The vaccine donations, he added, would also be concrete evidence of transatlantic pressure to promote a “useful” globalization that reflects “a common will to advance and share the same values”.
“If we want our globalization to succeed … we must address the problem of inequality in our societies, with our neighbors,” Macron said.
Jobs and growth
Friday’s summit saw the debut performances of US President Joe Biden and Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi, where all leaders promise renewed commitment to cooperation and consulates.
The leaders called for a stronger defense against a future pandemic, including exploring a global health treaty, but the focus was on a green recovery – the same day the United States was reunited with the Paris climate agreement.
“Jobs and growth are what we will need after this pandemic,” British Prime Minister Boris Johnson told the meeting.
The official G7 communications said that members would be open to economies, “data flow with confidence” and work with “a modernized, freer and fairer rule-based multilateral trading system”.
After Facebook cut off news feeds in Australia, Macron addressed the role social media platforms should play in preserving freedom of expression and how to regulate them, a French official said on Friday.
Merkel’s damping problems
Even at the virtual top table of world politics, the “silent curse” struck, which has put video calls to millions of businesses and families in recent months of lockdown.
When Johnson began the meeting, a German voice suddenly interrupted him.
“Can you hear us Angela,” Johnson joked to the German leader, laughing. “I think you need to turn off the sound.”
Johnson also claimed that Biden had “nodded” – British slang for the stolen – his slogan “build back better”, although Johnson said he himself had probably stolen it from elsewhere.
When the silent problems were over, the leaders started again.
“Covid-19 shows that the world needs stronger defenses against future risks to global health security,” says G7. “We will continue to support our economies to protect jobs and support a strong, sustainable, balanced and inclusive recovery.”
Although Biden has thrown China as the United States’ “most serious competitor”, China was mentioned only once in the communications.
Johnson said the G7 – as “like-minded liberal free trade democracies” – stood together on issues such as condemning the coup in Myanmar and detaining Alexei Navalny in Russia.
( Jowharwith AFP, AP and REUTERS)