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WORLD | 11-06-2021 23:48

G7 leaders pledge to donate one billion Covid vaccine doses to poor countries

Argentina does not feature on list of nations that will benefit.

Leaders from the G7 group of nations opened their first in-person talks in nearly two years on Friday, touting an expected pledge to donate one billion Covid vaccine doses to poor countries in a show of revived Western democratic unity.

The club of leading economies – made up of Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United States – say a joint approach is the world's best chance for recovering from the global health crisis, and tackling climate change.

Welcomed by British Prime Minister Boris Johnson to the beachside summit venue in Carbis Bay, southwest England, the leaders posed for a family photo before opening their first session of talks on "building back better" after the pandemic.

The three-day meeting presents a "huge opportunity" for global recovery after Covid-19, Johnson told his fellow leaders in opening remarks, as they sat socially distanced and without masks at a round table.

It would focus, he said, on "building back greener, building back fairer and building back more equal", with an emphasis on gender equality.

US President Joe Biden had set the tone, ditching Donald Trump's isolationist stance to ram home a message of resolve by the G7 and NATO against both Beijing and Moscow, as he heads into his first sit-down with Russian President Vladimir Putin next week in Geneva.

"I'm looking forward to reinforcing our commitment to multilateralism and working with our allies and partners to build a more fair and inclusive global economy," Biden tweeted from the G7 in Cornwall. "Let's get to work."

 

Doses and diplomacy

Campaigners say the G7's vaccine donations pledge for this year and next – including 500 million US doses – is far too little, too late to end a pandemic that has claimed over 3.7 million lives worldwide and is still spawning new variants.

The G7 wants to rise to competing "vaccine diplomacy" efforts launched by China and Russia, with the Biden administration stressing it expects nothing in return for its donated jabs.

The leaders are also expected to outline more help for developing nations to build up infrastructure, as a counterpoint to the debt-fuelled spending by China in Africa, Asia and Latin America.

Biden announced Thursday that the US would begin shipping a half-billion donated doses of Pfizer coronavirus vaccines to countries in “dire need” in August, making good on a promise to lead the global campaign against the pandemic.

The Pfizer shots will go to 92 lower-income nations selected by Covax, the World Health Organization group intended to equitably distribute vaccines around the world. About 200 million of the US-made doses will ship by the end of the year, with the remainder shipping in 2022, the White House said.

Argentina will not be one of the countries that will benefit. The majority of nations are from Asia and Africa. From Latin America, only Bolivia appears on the list.

 

– TIMES/AFP/BLOOMBERG

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