CARBIS BAY, England (AP) – Leaders of the Group of Seven industrialized countries are set to pledge at their summit to share at least 1 billion coronavirus vaccines with struggling countries around the world – half doses from the US and 100 million from the UK
Vaccine-sharing pledges from US President Joe Biden and UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson set the stage for the G-7 meeting in southwest England, where leaders will have opening greetings on Friday and from a “family photo” straight to a session on “Build Better From COVID-19.”
“We are going to help pull the world out of this pandemic by working alongside our global partners,” Biden said. The G-7 also includes Canada, France, Germany, Italy and Japan.
Leaders hope the meeting at the resort town of Carbis Bay will also boost the global economy. They are expected to officially adopt a global minimum corporate tax of at least 15% on Friday, following a deal reached a week ago by their finance ministers. The minimum aims to prevent businesses from using tax havens and other tools to avoid taxes.
This represents a potential victory for the Biden administration, which has proposed a global minimum tax as a way to pay for infrastructure projects, in addition to creating an alternative that could remove taxes on digital services from some European countries that hit heavily. American technology companies.
For Johnson, the first G-7 summit in two years – last year’s one scuttled by the pandemic – is an opportunity to articulate his vision of a post-Brexit ‘Global Britain’ as than a medium-sized country with a disproportionate role in international problems. solve.
It’s also an opportunity to highlight the UK-US bond, an alliance often referred to as a “special relationship” – but which Johnson has said he prefers to call the “indestructible relationship”.
Official summit business begins on Friday, with the usual formal greetings and a socially distanced group photo. Later, leaders will meet Queen Elizabeth II and other members of the Royal Family at the Eden Project, a lush, dome-shaped ecotourism site built in a former quarry.
G-7 leaders have faced increasing pressure to define their global vaccine sharing plans, especially as supply inequalities around the world have become more pronounced. In the United States, there is a large stock of vaccines and the demand for vaccines has dropped sharply in recent weeks.
Biden said the United States will donate 500 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine and foresee a coordinated effort from advanced economies to make the vaccination widely and quickly available everywhere. The pledge was in addition to the 80 million doses Biden had already pledged to give by the end of June.
Johnson, for his part, said the first 5 million doses in the UK will be shared in the coming weeks, with the rest coming over the next year. He said he expected the G-7 to commit to 1 billion doses in all.
“At the G-7 summit, I hope my fellow leaders will make similar commitments so that together we can vaccinate the world by the end of next year and build back better from the coronavirus,” said Johnson in a statement, referring to a slogan that he and Biden both used.
French President Emmanuel Macron praised the American commitment and said Europe should do the same. He said France would share at least 30 million doses worldwide by the end of the year.
Biden predicted that US doses and the global G-7 commitment would “overburden” the global immunization campaign, adding that US doses are provided unconditionally.
The United States’ commitment is to purchase and donate 500 million doses of Pfizer for distribution through the COVAX global alliance to 92 low-income countries and the African Union, bringing the first regular supply of vaccine to MRNA to countries that need it most.
The Pfizer deal has come to fruition with some urgency over the past four weeks under Biden’s leadership, a senior White House official said, both to meet critical needs abroad and to be prepared. to be announced at the G-7. The official, who requested anonymity to discuss internal plans, added that the Biden administration must apply the same wartime posture applied to the deployment of vaccines in the United States in its efforts to share vaccines around the world. .
Biden said the U.S.-made doses will be shipped from August, with a goal of distributing 200 million by the end of the year. The remaining 300 million doses would be shipped in the first half of 2022. The price of the doses has not been released, but the United States is now expected to be COVAX’s largest vaccine donor in addition to its biggest donor. fund with a commitment of $ 4 billion.
Aid workers welcomed the donation, but said the world needed more doses and hoped they would arrive sooner. Big statements and promises must be honored with detailed plans backed by delivery times, starting immediately.
“If we have a stop-start supply or if we stock all the supply for the end of the year, it is very difficult for low-income countries with rather fragile health systems to be able to then really pull these vaccines out of the way. tarmac and in the arms of health workers, “said Lily Caprani, COVID-19 vaccine advocate at UNICEF.” We want a coordinated, time-bound and ambitious commitment starting in June and charting the course. track for the rest of the year. “
The global COVAX alliance got off to a slow start to its vaccination campaign as wealthier countries blocked billions of doses through contracts directly with drug makers. The alliance has only distributed 81 million doses worldwide and some parts of the world, particularly in Africa, remain vaccine deserts.
Biden’s move, officials said, was intended to ensure that a substantial amount of manufacturing capacity remains open to wealthy countries. Last month, the European Commission signed an agreement to purchase up to 1.8 billion doses of Pfizer over the next two years, a significant chunk of the company’s upcoming production – though the bloc was reserved the right to donate some of its doses to COVAX.
White House officials have said the fast-track distribution program fits a theme Biden plans to hit frequently during his week in Europe: that Western democracies, not authoritarian states, can offer the most good to the world. world.
Biden, in his remarks, recalled workers in the Detroit area who 80 years ago built tanks and planes “which helped defeat the threat of global fascism during World War II.”
China and Russia have shared their locally produced vaccines with some needy countries, often with hidden conditions. Sullivan said Biden “wants to show – by rallying the rest of the world’s democracies – that democracies are the countries that can best offer solutions to people around the world.”
Miller reported from Washington. Lawless reported from Falmouth, England. AP writer Danica Kirka in Falmouth, England Sylvie Corbet in Paris, and Jonathan Lemire in Plymouth, England, contributed to this report.