The move, which will be outlined at the start of the three-day summit on Friday, is designed to respond to criticism that wealthy Western governments have obtained the bulk of vital Covid-19 vaccines from manufacturers to immunize their own populations. The vow is also an attempt to counter the “vaccine diplomacy” of Beijing and Moscow, which were quick to sell their blows to developing countries.
Hosting the G7 summit in Cornwall, Britain’s scenic southern tip, Prime Minister Boris Johnson is due to announce on Friday that the UK will donate 100 million excess vaccine doses over the next 12 months, according to reports. assistants.
After a face-to-face meeting with his host in Carbis Bay on the rural Cornish coast, US President Joe Biden on Thursday unveiled his commitment to purchase 500 million Covid-19 vaccines made by BioNTech / Pfizer and donate them to some of the poorest countries. That includes $ 200 million this year and the rest in the first half of next year.
“This is our responsibility, our humanitarian obligation to save as many lives as possible,” Biden said.
The EU has separately pledged 100 million doses for African and other developing countries by the end of this year.
Speaking at the Elysee Palace on Thursday, French President Emmanuel Macron said he would push the G7 to “remove obstacles” to speed up vaccination in Africa in order to achieve a 40% vaccination rate by the end of this year and 60% by the end of the year. end of the first quarter of next year.
Jabs given by the United States and other G7 members should be “matched” with an additional commitment from drugmakers to donate the equivalent of 10% of their production dose, Macron added.
British diplomats called the Carbis Bay meeting a “vaccine summit”, stressing that the G7 countries would illustrate their collective approach found in tackling Covid-19.
After four years in which the club of wealthy democracies was effectively crippled by Donald Trump’s conflicted and inward-looking American presidency, Biden will take advantage of the G7 summit and his trip to Brussels on Monday to reaffirm American leadership in the democratic world as well as in the transatlantic space. Cooperation.
Johnson described his interaction with Biden as “a great breath of fresh air”. ” There are many things [we] want to do together, ”he said, citing security, NATO and climate change.
Other topics high on the priority list of G7 countries – the US, UK, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan – include climate change, education girls and economic recovery.
The group’s finance ministers have already agreed to put in place a global business tax system, although details have yet to be fully agreed.
Johnson is putting the fight against Covid at the heart of the summit, for which G7 leaders will meet on Friday for their first face-to-face in more than a year at the Carbis Bay boutique hotel.
“This is the first time in ages that they will all get along,” said a British official. The meeting will include a beach barbecue on Saturday evening featuring locally caught Newlyn lobster and Cornish sparkling wine.
Johnson, the host of the summit, will call on G7 leaders to encourage pharmaceutical companies to adopt Oxford AstraZeneca’s model of providing nonprofit vaccines during the pandemic.
Downing Street said Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson had already pledged to share 1.3 billion nonprofit doses with developing countries.
Johnson has come under heavy criticism from his own lawmakers, including former Prime Minister Theresa May, for slashing Britain’s aid budget from 0.7% to 0.5% of national income during the pandemic.
The summit will also try to agree on a common approach to tackle future pandemics, with Johnson keen to avoid what Downing Street has called a ‘beggar-thy-neighbor’ approach in which countries scrambled to secure vital supplies early in the decade. the pandemic.
Johnson invited the leaders of Australia, India, South Africa and South Korea to attend, but British officials tried to roll back the idea that the G7 was expanding to become an anti-Chinese democratic group. “It’s about who we are, not who we are against,” a British official said.
For Johnson, the summit is a chance to put post-Brexit Britain on the world stage, but the UK’s departure from the EU continues to weigh on him, especially over new deals in Northern Ireland.
Additional reporting by Victor Mallet and David Keohane in Paris