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Under pressure, G7 leaders vow to deliver at least 1 billion extra COVID-19 vaccine doses in the next year

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Business Insider
Business Insider
 2021-06-13

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Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson and President Joe Biden at the G7 summit in Britain on Sunday.
  • During the G7 summit, world leaders said they aimed to end the pandemic next year.
  • Leaders laid out a plan to deliver at least 1 billion additional COVID-19 vaccine doses.
  • Rich nations have faced criticism for hoarding vaccines and leaving developing nations behind.
  • See more stories on Insider's business page .

Influential world leaders who met for the annual Group of Seven summit in the United Kingdom this week committed to delivering at least 1 billion additional COVID-19 vaccine doses to lower-income countries over the next year in a coordinated effort to end the pandemic in 2022.

"Our international priority is to accelerate the rollout of safe and effective, accessible and affordable vaccines for the poorest countries, noting the role of extensive immunization as a global public good," the leaders said in a statement published on Sunday.

The seven leaders, including President Joe Biden in the first overseas trip of his term, said they would also take steps to improve defenses against threats to global health, including supporting endeavors in science to shorten the cycle for developing vaccines, treatments, and tests from 300 days to 100 days.

Before the G7 released its official statement and news reports of the vaccine donations surfaced, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres said that plan does not go far enough. While he said the plan was "very much welcomed," he said more efforts were needed.

"We would need more than, I would say, bilateral forms of support and individual countries' initiatives," Guterres said, according to a transcript of his remarks on Friday. "We need a concerted effort."

He wants to see countries most involved in producing vaccines to form a global vaccination plan and an emergency task force "to guarantee the design and then the implementation" of such a plan.

"If not, the risk is that there will be, still, large areas of the developing world where the virus will spread like wildfire," he said, noting the risk of new variants could undermine developed countries' efforts to inoculate their populations.

While a steady pace of vaccinations in countries like the US and the UK has resulted in a sharp drop in coronavirus infections, hospitalizations, and deaths, some other nations are experiencing soaring numbers of new COVID-19 cases and deaths.

In India, faced with a devastating surge this spring , 23,625 new deaths and 630,650 new cases have been recorded in the last week alone, according to Johns Hopkins University data . Brazil meanwhile has logged more than 78,700 new COVID-19 cases in 24 hours, with just over 11% of its population against the virus .

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Biden speaks during a news conference at the end of the G7 summit.

Wealthy nations have faced criticism for hoarding vaccines during the pandemic and leaving developing nations behind. At one point, in mid-February, just 10 countries accounted for three-quarters of COVID-19 vaccinations given through that point, according to the Center for Policy Impact in Global Health at Duke's Global Health Institute.

"If the rich world continues to hoard vaccines, the pandemic will drag on for perhaps as long as seven more years," Dr. Gavin Yamey, the center's director and a Duke professor, wrote in February , noting the vaccine deliveries up until that point were "a sign that the race to vaccinate the world is hardly on even footing."

Ending the pandemic next year would require vaccinating at least 60% of the global population, the G7 leaders said.

The leaders from the UK, Germany, Italy, France, Canada, Japan, and the US said they planned to use "the full spectrum of the capability and capacity we can each deploy" to support such an effort, including financing and "ensuring availability through exports, opening supply chains, and supporting final mile delivery."

Some 2.34 billion COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered as of Sunday morning, according to Johns Hopkins University .

The G7 leaders said they have supported Covax - the global vaccine-sharing program led by bodies including the World Health Organization - as the primary method of delivering vaccines to the world's poorest countries.

At least 700 million doses have been exported or are set to be exported this year, nearly half of which are for non-G7 countries.

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