LONDON, Jun 6, 2021 (BSS/PTI) – UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson will call on fellow G7 leaders to make concrete commitments to vaccinate the entire world against coronavirus by the end of 2022 at the Leaders’ Summit in Cornwall, Downing Street has said.
The meeting, starting on Friday, is the first between G7 leaders since the coronavirus pandemic and the UK as president of the summit has made vaccine supply and support for equitable access, tackling climate change and getting more children into school as central themes of the meeting of the world’s leading economies.
India has been invited as a guest country, with Prime Minister Narendra Modi expected to participate virtually.
“Next week the leaders of the world’s greatest democracies will gather at an historic moment for our countries and for the planet. The world is looking to us to rise to the greatest challenge of the post-war era: defeating Covid and leading a global recovery driven by our shared values,” Johnson said in a statement on Saturday.
“Vaccinating the world by the end of next year would be the single greatest feat in medical history. I’m calling on my fellow G7 leaders to join us to end this terrible pandemic and pledge that we will never allow the devastation wreaked by coronavirus to happen again,” he said.
The UK government is keen to highlight its efforts to ensure the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people have access to vaccines.
At the outset of the pandemic, Downing Street said the UK funded the development and production of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine and guaranteed it would be made available at cost around the globe.
As a result, almost one in three vaccines administered around the world have been the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine – 450 million out of 1.5 billion doses – with the Serum Institute of India among those licenced to manufacture the doses as Covishield in India.
“The UK also worked to establish the COVAX scheme to distribute the vaccine to developing countries, providing a significant financial contribution of 548 million pounds early on and encouraging other countries to commit to the scheme. COVAX would not have been able to deliver the 80 million doses it already without Oxford-AstraZeneca, which made up 96 per cent million of those doses,” Downing Street said.
As part of his G7 message, Johnson is expected to call for stepping up the manufacture of vaccines, lowering barriers to the international distribution of those vaccines – as the UK has done with Oxford/AstraZeneca – and ultimately sharing surplus doses with developing countries bilaterally and through COVAX.
The UK says it has already pledged to share a significant majority of its surplus doses with the scheme and will announce more details of the UK’s plans to support developing countries by sharing doses not needed by the country at the summit. G7 leaders – from the UK, US, Canada, France, Germany, Italy and Japan as well the European Union – will arrive at Carbis Bay in the coastal region of Cornwall on Friday for three days of meetings on a huge range of global issues, with a particular focus on how the group can lead the global recovery from coronavirus.
Next Saturday, the G7 countries will be joined by the leaders of Australia, South Africa, South Korea and India for discussions on health and climate change – a mix of in person and virtual, as in the case of India.
As well as asking leaders to join the UK in efforts to vaccinate the world, Johnson will call on them to support the Global Pandemic Radar – a new global surveillance system which will protect immunisation programmes against new vaccine resistant variants by detecting them before they have the chance to spread.
Alongside efforts to defeat the pandemic itself, Downing Street he will stress the need to build back better, with a recovery that puts opportunity, sustainability and democratic values at its heart.
This is the first G7 where all members will have committed to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050. Johnson will ask leaders to channel this ambition and make strong commitments on cutting emissions, shifting to renewable energy and providing climate finance for developing countries ahead of the UK-hosted COP26 Summit later this year.
It is expected that the Cornwall Summit will advance the work the UK and other G7 countries have done to make sure all girls have access to 12 years of quality education. Next month the UK will also co-host the Global Partnership for Education Summit.