The Group of Seven Wealthy Democracies will discuss coronavirus vaccines on Wednesday as they face increasing pressure to share their stocks and know-how with poor countries, far behind in the fight against the pandemic.
Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and US foreign ministers conclude three-day talks in central London that will establish order the day of a G7 leaders’ summit next month in Cornwall, southern England.
After a day dedicated to showing a united front of democracies towards China, the final sessions will also bring together development leaders and address global challenges, including the Covid-19 pandemic and climate change.
“A really valuable part of the G7 format is thinking in circles – what do we need to do to help the world’s most vulnerable countries? British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab told reporters.
Rich countries focused on Covax, a UN-backed program to share vaccines with poorer countries.
But rich countries also eliminated Covax early on, making their own deals with drugmakers and taking the overwhelming share of the more than 1.2 billion doses of the Covid-19 vaccine that have already been injected around the world.
Raab stressed the importance of Covax but said there was a further question of “what are we doing about the oversupply”.
These questions are “a very good opportunity for the G7 with our Indo-Pacific partners to discuss all of this and find positive answers,” Raab said.
Britain has invited India to the G7 talks, seeking to include a crucial democratic ally in talks over China – but one who has been devastated in recent weeks by Covid.
– Questions about the future of vaccines –
The United States has pledged more than $ 4 billion to Covax – far more than any other country – and said last week it was urgently shipping more than $ 100 million in Covid relief supplies to India.
But President Joe Biden’s administration has bypassed calls for relaxing intellectual property rules to allow cheaper vaccines, voiced by campaigners as well as India – itself a major vaccine maker.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who is participating in the talks in London, promised last month that the United States would soon be able to provide vaccines abroad after a successful campaign at home.
In an overview of the discussions, Blinken said at the time that his country would insist on “core values” in vaccine distribution – in implicit contrast to China.
“We will not trade gunshots for political favors. It’s about saving lives, ”Blinken said.
But activists say the United States and other wealthy countries need to do a lot more.
Former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, who led the wider G20 in 2009 during the global financial crisis, this week called for immediate action by the G7.
“I say to the G7… you have the power and the capacity to pay almost two-thirds of the costs and ensure a historic breakthrough by agreeing on a formula for equitable burden sharing,” he said.
In addition to the immediate deficits, the world needs an additional $ 35-45 billion next year to ensure that most of the world’s adults are immunized, according to the World Health Organization.
Britain is also hoping the G7 will step up efforts to tackle climate change ahead of a major United Nations conference in Glasgow in November that aims to bolster promises made in the 2015 Paris Agreement.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government has sharply raised its ambitions, promising a 78% reduction in carbon emissions from 1990 levels by 2035.
Britain is one of many countries that have pledged greater efforts on the rise after successive years of record high temperatures and escalating natural disasters.
Biden, in a radical departure from his climate-skeptical predecessor Donald Trump, last month led a virtual climate change summit and pledged the United States would cut greenhouse gas emissions by more than half by 2030 compared to 2005 levels.
burs-sct / phz / tgb
© 2021 AFP