British Prime Minister Boris Johnson expects the Group of Seven to agree to donate one billion doses of COVID-19 vaccine to poorest countries at his summit from Friday, and help vaccinate the world by the end of next year.
Just hours after US President Joe Biden vowed to boost the battle against the coronavirus with a donation of 500 million Pfizer vaccines (PFE.N), Johnson said Britain would donate at least 100 million surplus vaccines to the poorest countries.
Johnson has already called on G7 leaders to pledge to vaccinate the entire world by the end of 2022 and the group is expected to pledge to pledge 1 billion doses during its three-day summit in the English seaside resort of Carbis Bay .
Some campaign groups have condemned the plan as a drop in the ocean, with Oxfam estimating that nearly 4 billion people will depend on COVAX for vaccines, the program that distributes COVID-19 vaccines to low and middle-income countries.
“Due to the success of the UK vaccination program, we are now able to share some of our excess doses with those who need them,” Johnson said on Friday, according to excerpts from the announcement released by his office.
“In doing so, we will take a giant step towards defeating this pandemic for good. “
COVID-19 has killed an estimated 3.9 million people and devastated the global economy, with infections reported in more than 210 countries and territories since the first cases were identified in China in December 2019.
As scientists have brought vaccines to market at breakneck speed – Britain has given a first dose to 77% of its adult population and the United States 64% – they say the pandemic will not end until all countries will have been vaccinated.
With a global population of nearly 8 billion and most people in need of two doses or even boosters to tackle the variants, campaigners said the pledges were a start, but world leaders needed to go much further. and much faster.
“The G7’s goal of delivering 1 billion doses must be seen as an absolute minimum, and the timeline must accelerate,” said Lis Wallace of anti-poverty campaign group ONE.
“We are in a race against this virus and the longer it stays in the lead, the greater the risk that new and more dangerous variants will undermine global progress. “
Of the 100 million UK snapshots, 80 million will go to the COVAX program led by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the rest will be shared bilaterally with countries in need.
Johnson echoed Biden in calling on his fellow executives to make similar commitments and on pharmaceutical companies to embrace the Oxford-AstraZeneca model of providing vaccines at cost for the duration of the pandemic.
Leaving the poorest countries to deal with the pandemic on their own risks allowing the virus to mutate further and escape vaccines. Charities also said that logistical support would be needed to help deliver large numbers of vaccines in poorer countries.
The UK doses will come from stock it has already purchased for its home program, and will come from suppliers Oxford-AstraZeneca (AZN.L), Pfizer-BioNTech (PFE.N), Janssen, Moderna and others.
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