G7 members pledge 1B Covid vax doses for poorer nations

The Group of Seven(G7) leaders countries — Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the UK and the US — have pledged to donate one billion doses of Covid-19 vaccines to poor countries to help vaccinate the world by the end of next year, according to media reports.

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has pledged more than 100 million surplus doses, which will be delivered in the next year, the BBC reported on Friday.

The first five million doses from the UK will be given by the end of September, with another 25 million by the end of the year.

Of the 100 million Covid doses, 80 million will go to the COVAX programme — the international vaccine-sharing initiative — 20 million will be shared bilaterally with countries in need.

“As a result of the success of the UK’s vaccine programme we are now in a position to share some of our surplus doses with those who need them,” Johnson was quoted as saying.

“In doing it so we will take a massive step towards beating this pandemic for good,” he said, adding that he hoped his fellow leaders at the summit, which starts on Friday, would “make similar pledges so that, together, we can vaccinate the world by the end of next year”.

US President Joe Biden has also promised half a billion doses of Pfizer vaccines to 92 low and middle-income countries and the African Union, the report said.

While the first 200 million doses will be distributed by the end of this year, another 300 million will be distributed by June 2021.

“The United States is providing these half billion doses with no strings attached. No strings attached,” Biden was quoted as saying.

“Our vaccine donations don’t include pressure for favours, or potential concessions. We’re doing this to save lives,” he added.

The UK government has already donated over 500 million pounds to COVAX.

Early, this month, the Biden administration had announced sharing at least 80 million vaccine doses globally by the end of June. Of these 25 million doses will be distributed this month to countries in the Caribbean and Latin America; South and Southeast Asia; Africa; and the Palestinian territories, Gaza and the West Bank. The remaining 75 per cent of these vaccines will be distributed through COVAX, the White House had said in a statement.

France and Germany have committed 30 million vaccine doses each, while Italy has pledged 15 million doses.

Together, the European Union has committed to donate at least 100 million doses of coronavirus vaccines to middle- and low-income countries before the end of the year, the Euronews reported.

Japan has pledged to donate 30 million doses this year. Canada has said it will donate excess vaccine doses to COVAX, but has not yet said when or how many, the CTVnews reported.

The G7 countries account for over a third of the world’s vaccine supply, despite making up only 13 per cent of the global population.

COVAX had last month said it needed another $2 billion pledged to secure enough vaccines to vaccinate almost one-third of people living in low and middle-income countries.

Meanwhile, the World Health Organisation on Thursday said that 47 of Africa’s 54 countries — nearly 90 per cent — are set to miss the September target of vaccinating 10 per cent of their people unless Africa receives 225 million more doses.

At 32 million doses, Africa accounts for under 1 per cent of the over 2.1 billion doses administered globally. Just 2 per cent of the continent’s nearly 1.3 billion people have received one dose and only 9.4 million Africans are fully vaccinated.