G20 summit ends with pledge to provide Covid-19 vaccines for all

Joanna Estrada
November 23, 2020

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is joining fellow leaders at the G20 in a promise to provide more assistance to poor countries battered by COVID-19, including the provision of vaccines for all.

The twin crises of the pandemic and an uneven, uncertain global recovery dominated the first day of a two-day summit under the chairmanship of Saudi Arabia, which hands off the rotating presidency of the G20 to Italy next month.

"Are we going to be ready once the vaccine is on the market to guarantee its universal access and to avoid at all cost a "two-speed" world where only the rich will be able to protect themselves?" he asked.

Leaders of the 20 biggest economies on Saturday vowed to ensure a fair distribution of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) vaccines, drugs and tests around the world and do what was needed to support poorer countries struggling to recover from the coronavirus pandemic.

Calling on worldwide community to jointly fight the COVID-19, President Xi said the G20 members should help build a global firewall against the disease.

"But there can be no efficient response to this pandemic if it is not global, coordinated and based on solidarity".

"Had a very fruitful discussion with G20 leaders".

With progress being made in developing a vaccine, King Salman said G-20 countries "must work to create the conditions for affordable and equitable access to these tools for all peoples".

Climate change was also expected to top the agenda, with the change of United States leadership raising hopes of a more concerted effort at G20 level to fight global warming.

Keen to be better prepared for any potential next pandemic that might come, G20 leaders also said they would commit "to advancing global pandemic preparedness, prevention, detection, and response" and "to the continued sharing of timely, transparent, and standardised data and information".

Merkel was speaking during a meeting hosted by Saudi Arabia with heads of state and government from the world's wealthiest economies.

The summit is being held virtually by hosts Saudia Arabia owing to the coronavirus pandemic.

But the group faces mounting pressure to help stave off possible credit defaults among developing nations, as their debt soars amid the economic catastrophe stoked by the virus.

Last week, its finance ministers declared a "common framework" for an extended debt restructuring plan for virus-ravaged countries, but campaigners say the measure is insufficient.

Many G20 leaders have already congratulated his rival, President-elect Joe Biden.

International Monetary Fund managing director Kristalina Georgieva has warned that the global economy faces a hard road back from the Covid-19 downturn even as vaccines are now in sight.

The President later departed for a Virginia golf course, skipping the session on COVID-19 vaccines.

Saudi Arabia's human rights record has cast a shadow on the gathering, as campaigners and families of jailed activists launch vigorous drives to highlight the issue.

Some Western officials have indicated human rights will not be raised at the summit, saying they prefer to use bilateral forums to discuss the issue with Riyadh.

The communique offered no details on how the effort will be funded.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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