The G20 leaders pledged to “spare no effort” to ensure cheap, global access to Covid-19 vaccines, even if they have not made specific early-dose distribution commitments.
Following a G20 virtual summit hosted by Saudi Arabia, leaders said they fully support working together to buy and distribute coronavirus vaccines, despite the US so far declining to join the World Health Organization’s flagship vaccine distribution program, Covax .
“We recognize the role of comprehensive vaccination as a global public good,” said the G20 communique after the weekend meeting.
So far, the world’s most powerful economies have bought almost all available doses of the two most promising Covid-19 vaccines from Moderna and the Pfizer-BioNTech partnership. The companies were the first to publish data from Phase 3 clinical trials, and both recordings showed an efficacy rate of greater than 94 percent.
Pfizer and BioNTech can produce 1.35 billion doses of their vaccine by the end of 2021, including 50 million doses by the end of the year. Most of these cans have been reserved by the US, EU, UK and Japan.
The G20 leaders have bypassed the question of how many doses they would reserve for their own people and how many they would free up for the Covax program, which aims to ensure the global distribution of 2 billion vaccine doses by the end of 2021.
Donald Trump only attended the opening session of the weekend get-together before setting off to play golf. © Saudi Press Agency / Reuters
Many G20 leaders nonetheless said their goal was to secure vaccines for developing countries as the coronavirus crisis could only be solved if the virus was defeated worldwide.
French President Emmanuel Macron said the response must be global, coordinated and “solidary”. Chancellor Angela Merkel said the Covid-19 challenge could “only be met with global efforts”.
Donald Trump, who attended the opening session of the G20 before setting out to play golf, stressed the need for the G20 to work together to restore strong global economic growth after the pandemic.
Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, the global chairman of Gavi, the global vaccination alliance, said the Covax program had received enough funding from the G20 to buy vaccines and distribute them fairly, but it would add significant additional resources in 2021 need.
“The virus is winning,” she said. If leading economies could mobilize $ 24 billion to fight Covid-19 in 2021, “the G20 will lay a strong foundation to end the pandemic.”
The distribution of vaccines in 2021 will be a major test of whether intergovernmental collaborative efforts have been sufficient to ensure that those most in need are vaccinated early, or whether the richest countries are using their financial resources to stay at the top of the queue.
Aside from this month’s agreement to extend the suspension of debt repayment for poor countries, G20 leaders have made no specific joint commitments to help the world’s economic recovery from the pandemic. Instead, they urged each country to act as aggressively as possible for their individual circumstances.
“We underline the urgent need to control the spread of the virus, which is key to supporting the global economic recovery,” the communiqué reads.
All G20 governments, including the Trump administration, agreed to the communiqué’s call to support the multilateral trading system, pledged to reach an agreement on international taxation of multinational corporations in the first half of 2021, and pledged to stand up against climate change and the tackle biodiversity loss.