G7 rejects pleas to fund Covid jabs for poor countries, despite Boris Johnson’s ‘vaccinate the world’ pledge

Richest nations accused of failing ‘moment of truth’ by not discussing a financing package, as Africa is starved of doses

Rob Merrick
Deputy Political Editor
Friday 11 June 2021 20:05
Comments
Boris Johnson says post-Covid world needs to be ‘more feminine’ in opening G7 speech

G7 leaders have rejected pleas to find billions of pounds to end Covid jab shortages in poor countries, despite Boris Johnson making a plan to “vaccinate the world” his aim for the Cornwall summit.

Aid groups said the richest nations had failed what one called “a moment of truth” by not even discussing a financing package – instead merely donating doses expected to total less than 10 per cent of the number needed.

On the eve of the summit, more than 100 former world leaders, including Gordon Brown and Tony Blair, called for the G7 to pay two-thirds of the $66bn (£46.8bn) cost of a truly global programme.

The move would not only end “vaccine apartheid”, Mr Brown wrote in The Independent, but would be “an act of self-interest” – triggering a $9 trillion economic bounce back by 2025, the International Monetary Fund said.

But G7 leaders are instead expected to donate only one billion of the 11 billion doses required, as Downing Street admitted it had not put a financing package on the G7 agenda.

Mr Brown said the gathering had “failed the first test”, with a thin plan that amounted to “passing round the begging bowl” rather than a solution to meet the vast scale of the crisis.

Save the Children said it was “deeply disappointing that Boris Johnson is avoiding the main issue he faces during this G7 summit: finding the funds to vaccinate the world”.

And the group Global Justice Now, said: “Boris Johnson’s lofty promises to vaccinate the world have today been wiped out like a surfer in Corbis Bay. It’s shameful.”

Hopes were raised for the summit when Mr Johnson demanded “concrete commitments” from fellow G7 leaders to vaccinate “the entire world” by the end of 2022.

“The world is looking to us to rise to the greatest challenge of the post-war era,” he said last Sunday, adding: “Vaccinating the world by the end of next year would be the single greatest feat in medical history.”

Fewer than 2 per cent of people in sub-Saharan Africa have been vaccinated so far. No fewer than 20 African countries have run out of supplies or expect to do so very soon, with most people in most poor nations unlikely to receive a first dose until the second half of next year.

A joint Norway-South Africa plan, “based on ability to pay”, proposed the US paying 27 per cent of the $66bn, with smaller contributions from the EU (22 per cent), the UK (5 per cent), Japan 6 per cent) and Canada (2 per cent).

In an article for The Independent, Mr Brown warned that the prime minister’s grandiose words had “left unanswered the biggest question of all: who pays?”.

“Even if the G7 volunteered one billion doses – which is well within what they are able to offer – we would fall far short of the total 11 billion doses needed to meet the Johnson mass vaccination plan,” he wrote.

But, in Cornwall, his spokesman – speaking after the UK pledged to donate 100 million doses “over the next year” – said a vaccination financing plan was not part of the talks.

Kirsty McNeill, policy director at Save the Children, called it “a moment of truth”, suggesting the UK had undermined its leadership role with its £4bn-a-year overseas aid cuts.

“The UK simply lacks the credibility and the capacity to galvanise partners to pay for their promises. As the clock ticks and the pandemic rages on, the prime minister faces a real test of leadership,” she warned.

David Nabarro, Covid-19 envoy for the World Health Organisation, called the vaccine donation plantoo slow”, urging world leaders, in a Times Radio interview: “Please work on it quickly. Don’t wait.”

But Mr Johnson’s spokesman rejected suggestions that his “vaccinate the world” ambition for the three-day summit was now in tatters.

“No, we are donating money to improve manufacturing bases for vaccines, we are donating doses themselves,” he told The Independent.

“We have also worked, through the funding we provided to AstraZeneca and the agreements we reached, to provide doses at cost.

“We are already ensuring that, through Covax, the vast, vast majority of doses are from Astra, which is due to the UK support. So there are a number of ways in which we can do more to help developing countries.”

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in