Covid vaccines: Boris Johnson pledges surplus to poorer countries at G7

Elias Hubbard
February 19, 2021

Biden will become the first United States president to address the Munich meeting, underlining a decisive shift after cooperation was all but broken under his go-it-alone predecessor Donald Trump.

The comments come one day before Biden will join the G7 virtual meeting, where leaders of major industrialized nations are set to address anxiety over a global vaccine rollout that's left behind poor countries. The remaining $2 billion will be allocated over the next two years to expand vaccine manufacturing and delivery, with the first $500 million expected to be released quickly.

Other countries, including Russian Federation and China, have begun making their own direct donations to countries of their state-funded vaccines, which the White House has said previously it is watching with concern.

"This pandemic is not going to end unless we end it globally", a senior administration official said. Allowing high numbers of infections to continue across the world is also likely to lead to new virus variants that can threaten to prolong the pandemic for rich and poor countries alike, experts argue.

COVAX hopes to provide vaccinations to at least 20% of the population in 92 of the world's poorest countries by the end of this year.

The federal government has agreed to top up its funding for vaccine rollouts in lower-income countries, pledging $75 million more to the COVAX worldwide vaccine-sharing program as other wealthy countries step up their commitment. Trump declined to participate in the global effort, insisting his focus must be on providing shots to Americans.

Biden administration officials said their focus was also on vaccinating Americans and sought to separate the domestic and worldwide efforts.

Friday's G-7 meeting - and a speech by Biden at the Munich Security Conference the same day - comes the day the United States officially rejoins the Paris climate agreement, the largest worldwide effort to curb global warming.

The Biden administration said it expects to have enough vaccine doses for all Americans by the end of July, though it will take more time to complete vaccinations. It has also purchased doses of the still-to-be-authorized Johnson & Johnson product, as well as other vaccines still in development.

"When we have a sufficient supply it is our intention to consider donating surplus vaccines, absolutely", said one official.

Advocates have called on the Biden administration and other wealthy nations to make plans for donating surplus doses, in addition to ramping up their financial contributions.

Joe Biden will use his first big presidential moment on the global stage at Friday's Group of Seven meeting of world leaders to announce that the US will soon begin releasing $4 billion for an worldwide effort to bolster the purchase and distribution of coronavirus vaccine to poor nations, White House officials said.

"Today's new investment comes at the right time: the pandemic does not end until it ends everywhere, so investing to ensure everyone has access to vaccines and other tools is smart", Stuart Hickox, director of the One Campaign anti-poverty organization's Canadian chapter, said in an email.

The Prime Minister has also confirmed today that the United Kingdom will share the majority of any future surplus coronavirus vaccines from our supply with the COVAX procurement pool to support developing countries, in addition to the UK's £548 million funding for the scheme.

Last week, the White House said it was wary of those efforts.

There has been pressure on Biden to donate a percentage of the USA vaccine allotment to poorer countries, including from France's Emmanuel Macron. "But we are - we watch those actions with concern".

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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