G7 Expected to Pledge 1 Billion Vaccine Doses to Poorer Countries

Many campaign groups have criticised the plan as being “a drop in the ocean”, urging the world leaders of the G7 to do more, and that too, much faster.

G7 Boris Johnson
Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson pledged that at least 100 million surplus doses will be given to poorer countries. Source: Sunday Guardian

The G7 is expected to pledge 1 billion vaccine doses by the end of its three day summit in Carbis Bay. Shortly after US President Joe Biden announced the county’s donation of 500 million Pfizer shots in order to supercharge the battle against the virus, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson pledged that at least 100 million surplus doses will be given to poorer countries. Johnson also has called on the G7 to pledge to vaccinate the world by 2022.

G7 Summit Agenda

The G7 summit is said to discuss global vaccination, climate change, as well as how to shore up a sustained economic recovery. Many campaign groups have criticised the plan as being “a drop in the ocean”, urging the world leaders to do more, and that too, much faster, considering the rate at which the virus has ripped through populations in the past year. Lis Wallace at an anti-poverty campaign, stated:

“The G7’s aim to provide 1 billion doses should be seen as an absolute minimum, and the timeframe needs to speed up. We’re in a race with this virus and the longer it’s in the lead the greater the risk of new, more dangerous variants undermining global progress”

COVAX, is an initiative designed to address the issue of equitable distribution of vaccines to low income nations, led by Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, and a public-private partnership with the WHO. Of the proposed 100 million shots of British Vaccines, 80 million will go to COVAX. The rest will be shared bilaterally with countries in need.

Disparity Among Countries

According to Our World in Data, a report compiled by the University of Oxford’s Global Change Data Lab, more richer and powerful countries have been able to vaccinate more people. 60% of Britain’s population and 52% of USA’s, have received at least one dose of vaccination, as of June 6th. However, many countries have vaccinated far lesser percentage of the population. Only 23% of Brazilians and 13% of Indians have received first dosage.

The report showed that the average throughout Africa was below 2%. In addition, according to the WHO, while most countries in the “developing world” have ordered enough vaccines to vaccinate their populations several times over, in contrast only 0.4 shots have been administered in poorer countries. The disparity is very clear. In its half-yearly report, the World Bank Forecast predicted the world economy to grow at 5.6% this year, which is a sharp upgrade from what it predicted earlier this year i.e 4.1%. This, according to the forecast, would be the fastest post recession recovery in the last 80 years. What it fails to emphasize in its report is the 2.9% slow growth of lower income countries, which is the slowest in the past 20 years (aside from 2020 fallout). The recovery is thus fueled by the growth in few major economies, who have experienced rapid progress owing to Covid-19 vaccine.

While the World Bank did mention the uneven recovery, both the Bank and the G7 members have not made any significant demands related to dropping of patents and intellectual property rights of pharmaceutical companies. While the US temporarily did this last month, the main opposition to such a move was from the EU and the UK. Both World Bank and the G7 host oppose the move on the grounds that ‘doing so would jeopardize spending on research and development’, even though much of this research has been funded in actually by public money.

Read: Wealth Inequality, Billionaires and the COVID19 Pandemic

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May 2024
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