G-20 calls for more vaccines for developing countries to reach 70% target
ROME – Finance and Health ministers from the Group of 20 economies called on Friday to increase the supply of COVID-19 vaccines to developing countries to meet the goal of vaccinating 70% of the world’s population. ‘by mid-2022.
Global disparities in access to COVID-19 threaten to leave developing countries in an uneven and unsustainable economic recovery from the pandemic, officials here have warned. They also created a new working group for financial and health authorities to cooperate in pandemic preparedness and response, with the first meeting to be held this year.
The call to action comes as less than 2% of the population in poor countries was vaccinated on Tuesday, compared to 64% in rich countries, according to Our World in Data.
“We will take measures to help increase the supply of vaccines and essential medical products and inputs to developing countries and remove relevant supply and funding constraints,” the ministers said in a statement.
Speaking to reporters ahead of the meeting, French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire called for $ 100 billion in aid to developing countries.
“A long-term concern is that after the pandemic, developed countries experience a strong economic recovery while emerging economies face a major crisis,” said Le Maire.
World Trade Organization Director-General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala echoed these sentiments, saying: “If we don’t fight [the pandemic] everywhere we will not have a sustainable economic recovery. ”
G-20 members have pledged more than 1.3 billion doses of coronavirus vaccine to COVAX, a program supported by the World Health Organization to distribute vaccines to developing countries. Less than 170 million of them have been delivered to date, according to the International Monetary Fund.
The WHO said Thursday it would need $ 23.4 billion over the next 12 months to boost global access to COVID-19 vaccines, tests and treatments.
The G-20 countries “have the capacity to make the political and financial commitments necessary to end this pandemic,” said WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.
Leading international figures including former UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown, former US Treasury Secretary Larry Summers and Okonjo-Iweala signed an open letter calling for G-20 cooperation on vaccine distribution.
In addition to financial and medical aid to developing countries, G-20 ministers also discussed on Friday how the world can better tackle infectious diseases in the future.
“The severe mortality, morbidity and hospitalization of affected patients clearly revealed weaknesses in pandemic prevention, preparedness and response (PPR), health systems and services, information and education”, the ministers said in the statement.
The newly created G-20 Joint Finance-Health Working Group aims to “promote the exchange of experiences and best practices” and “develop coordination arrangements between ministries of finance and health.”
“We missed the boat the first time around and we have to get it right this time because there is going to be another pandemic,” Okonjo-Iweala said.