G-20 News

‘Failure for humanity’: rich world wants to end vaccine inequalities



Rich country leaders and big drugmakers on Friday pledged to do more to close the surprising gap in the fight against COVID-19, with an increased flow of much-needed vaccines to poorer regions.

Heavily funded massive vaccination campaigns are helping many wealthy countries reduce infections, but few vaccines have reached less developed countries where the virus still sometimes rages out of control, sparking accusations of “vaccine apartheid.”

To date, some 1.53 billion doses have been administered worldwide, but only about 1% of them in Africa, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). Read more

“We have to bow our heads in shame,” said South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, one of many world leaders to speak at a special Group of 20 summit on the pandemic, hosted by the Italy and the Executive Commission of the European Union.

“We are in a global war against a pandemic. When you are at war and you are all allies, you must use all your weapons without hiding behind profit at the expense of life,” he added.

In their final Rome declaration, leaders called for voluntary licensing and technology transfers to boost vaccine production. But there has been no consensus on a contested push by the United States and other countries for drug companies to waive valuable patents.

However, Pfizer (PFE.N) and BioNTech have pledged to make available to the poorest countries 1 billion doses at reduced prices this year. A billion more vaccines will be provided next year, said Pfizer boss Albert Bourla. Read more

Johnson & Johnson (JNJ.N) has pledged 200 million doses of its vaccine to COVAX, a vaccine-sharing program co-led by the WHO.

In addition, the EU has pledged € 1 billion ($ 1.2 billion) to build vaccine manufacturing centers in Africa.

“As we prepare for the next pandemic, our priority must be to ensure that we all overcome the current pandemic together. We must vaccinate the world and do it quickly,” said Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi.

Chinese President Xi Jinping has pledged $ 3 billion in aid over the next three years to help developing countries recover and has offered to create an international forum to promote equitable distribution of vaccines. Read more

US President Joe Biden let his Vice President, Kamala Harris, speak on his behalf. His administration has backed calls by many developing countries for patent waivers, in the hope that it would boost production and allow for more equitable distribution.

The suggestion was rejected by some European countries, who instead called for the removal of US trade barriers which they see as the main bottleneck. Read more

‘SHARE DOLLARS AND DOSES’

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said existing global agreements already allow countries to force companies to share their licenses in times of emergency.

She added that the EU would make a proposal to facilitate the use of these clauses and added that Europe would donate at least 100 million doses to the poorest countries by the end of the year, including 30 million each from France and Germany.

Among a host of proposals, the International Monetary Fund has suggested a $ 50 billion plan to end the pandemic by vaccinating at least 40% of all people by the end of 2021 and at least 60% by the end of 2021. the first half of 2022. read more

American philanthropist Bill Gates said more than 80% of the first billion shots went to rich countries, compared to 0.2% for low-income countries. “If we don’t bridge this huge gap, more people will die needlessly. There are two immediate actions countries can take: share the dollars and the doses,” he said.

In their statement, world leaders stressed the importance of the so-called ACT-Accelerator, a WHO tool for distributing COVID-19 vaccines, drugs and tests.

However, disappointing initial expectations, the statement did not include a clear commitment to fully fund the program, which is still $ 19 billion short.

The COVAX program, which is dedicated to equitable global distribution of vaccines, was also mentioned as a way to deliver given doses to countries.

“The rapid development of COVID-19 vaccines is a triumph of science, but their inequitable distribution is a failure for humanity,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreysus said at the virtual meeting.

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