By Kate Holton
CARBIS BAY, England (Reuters) – British Prime Minister Boris Johnson expects the Group of Seven to agree to donate 1 billion doses of the COVID-19 vaccine to the poorest countries during its summit starting Friday, and that help vaccinate the world by the end of next year. .
Just hours after the president of the United States, Joe Biden, promised to boost the battle against the coronavirus with a donation of 500 million. Pfizer (NYSE :), Johnson said Britain would give at least 100 million surplus vaccines to the poorest nations.
Johnson has already asked G7 leaders to commit to vaccinating everyone by the end of 2022 and the group is expected to promise one billion doses during its three-day summit in the English seaside resort of Carbis Bay.
Some campaign groups condemned the plan as a drop in the bucket, with Oxfam estimating that nearly 4 billion people will depend on vaccines from COVAX, the program that distributes COVID-19 injections to low- and middle-income countries.
“As a result of the success of the UK vaccine program, we are now in a position to share some of our excess doses with those who need them,” Johnson will say on Friday, according to excerpts from the announcement published by his office.
“By doing so, we will take a huge step toward defeating this pandemic forever.”
COVID-19 has killed around 3.9 million people and devastated the global economy, with infections reported in more than 210 countries and territories since the first cases were identified in China in December 2019.
While scientists have brought vaccines to market at breakneck speeds (Britain has given a first dose to 77% of its adult population and the United States to 64%), they say the pandemic will only end once all countries have been vaccinated.
With a world population approaching 8 billion and most people needing two doses, if not booster shots, to address the variants as well, activists said the pledges marked a start, but world leaders needed to go. much further and much faster.
“If the best G7 leaders can do is donate 1 billion doses of vaccines, then this summit will have been a failure,” said Oxfam health policy manager Anna Marriott, adding that the world would need 11,000. million doses to end the pandemic.
Oxfam also called on G7 leaders to support an exemption on the intellectual property behind vaccines.
“The lives of millions of people in developing countries should never depend on the goodwill of wealthy nations and profit-hungry pharmaceutical corporations,” Marriott said.
Of the 100 million British injections, 80 million will go to the COVAX program led by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the rest will be shared bilaterally with countries in need.
Johnson echoed Biden by asking his fellow leaders to make similar promises and for drug companies to adopt the Oxford-AstraZeneca model of providing vaccines at cost during the pandemic.
Letting the poorest countries deal with the pandemic alone runs the risk of allowing the virus to mutate further and avoid vaccines. Charities have also said that logistical support will be needed to help administer large numbers of vaccines in the poorest countries.
The UK doses will be drawn from stocks you have already purchased for your national program and will come from suppliers Oxford-AstraZeneca, Pfizer-BioNTech, Janssen, Modern (NASDAQ 🙂 and others.
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