Covid-19: G7 nations expected to pledge 1 billion vaccine doses for world

Covid-19: G7 nations expected to pledge

The Group of Seven nations is set to commit to sharing at least 1 billion coronavirus shots with the world, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced, with half coming from the US and 100 million from the UK, as US President Joe Biden urges allies to join in speeding the pandemic’s end and bolstering the strategic position of the world's wealthiest democracies.

Johnson's announcement on the eve of the G7 leaders' summit in England came hours after Biden committed to donating 500 million Covid-19 vaccine doses and previewed a co-ordinated effort by the advanced economies to make vaccination widely and speedily available everywhere.

“We’re going to help lead the world out of this pandemic working alongside our global partners,” Biden said, adding that on Friday (US time) the G7 nations would join the US in outlining their vaccine donation commitments. The G7 also includes Canada, France, Germany, Italy and Japan.

The prime minister's office said the first 5 million UK doses would be shared in coming weeks, with the remainder coming over the next year. Biden's own commitment was on top of the 80 million doses he has already pledged to donate by the end of June.

“At the G7 Summit I hope my fellow leaders will make similar pledges so that, together, we can vaccinate the world by the end of next year and build back better from coronavirus,” Johnson said in a statement, referencing the US president's campaign slogan.

Earlier on Thursday, French President Emmanuel Macron welcomed the US commitment and said Europe should do the same. He said France would share at least 30 million doses globally by year's end.

“I think the European Union needs to have at least the same level of ambition as the United States,” he said at a news conference. He added that time was of the essence, saying, “It’s almost more important to say how many (doses) we deliver the next month than making promises to be fulfilled in 18 months from now.”

The G7 leaders have faced mounting pressure to outline their global vaccine-sharing plans, especially as inequities in supply around the world have become more pronounced. In the US, there is a large vaccine stockpile and the demand for shots has dropped precipitously in recent weeks.

Biden predicted the US doses and the overall G7 commitment would “supercharge” the global vaccination campaign, adding that the US doses came with no strings attached.

Covid-19: G7 nations expected to pledge

Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla speaks ahead of the summit. The US commitment is to buy and donate 500 million Pfizer doses for distribution through the global Covax alliance.

“Our vaccine donations don't include pressure for favours or potential concessions,” Biden said. “We’re doing this to save lives, to end this pandemic, that’s it.”

He added: “Our values call on us to do everything that we can to vaccinate the world against Covid-19.″

The US commitment is to buy and donate 500 million Pfizer doses for distribution through the global Covax alliance to 92 lower-income countries and the African Union, bringing the first steady supply of mRNA vaccine to the countries that need it most.

The Pfizer agreement came together with some urgency in the last four weeks at Biden’s direction, said a senior White House official, both to meet critical needs overseas and to be ready for announcement at the G7.

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