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G7 wastes opportunity to help others: China Daily editorial

chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2021-06-15 19:56
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A G7 logo is seen on an information sign near the Carbis Bay hotel resort in St Ives, Cornwall, southwest Britain, May 24, 2021. [Photo/Agencies]

The leaders of the G7 wealthy nations pledged during their weekend summit in the United Kingdom to share more than 1 billion COVID-19 vaccines with the world's low-income countries over next year.

But given that "right now, the virus is moving faster than the global vaccine distribution", as Director-General of the World Health Organization Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus put it; and that the WHO estimates 11 billion doses are needed if at least 70 percent of the world's population is to be vaccinated by next year to achieve herd immunity against the virus, the group's pledge seems too little.

Not to mention the fact that the imbalance between the G7 and low-income countries in terms of doses administered stands at 73 to 1, according to the World Bank, accentuating the "moral failure" of the rich countries to stand by the poorer nations amid this global health crisis.

Since COVID-19 started raging across the world, the way the rich countries have dealt with global vaccine distribution has been egregious. Even UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson admitted during the summit that the "selfish and nationalistic approaches" by some countries "had marred the initial global response to the COVID-19 pandemic".

As a result, the world is experiencing astonishing vaccine inequality. Of the 1.3 billion vaccines given around the world, only 1 percent has been administered in Africa. While the G7 nations have secured enough vaccines for every one of their citizens to be vaccinated three times over, according to the WHO.

The United States, which has plentiful doses, has an ever-growing surplus of coronavirus vaccines. Millions of Johnson & Johnson vaccines are reportedly set to expire this month.

Moreover, the WHO is still facing a funding gap of $16 billion to speed up production and access to COVID-19 diagnostics, treatment and vaccines. That figure represents less than 1 percent of the annual global defense expenditure, yet this issue went unanswered during the G7 Summit.

All this makes it self-evident that the collective step taken by the G7 to address the urgent need of the developing world for vaccine doses is more symbolic than substantial. As former UK prime minister Gordon Brown said, the summit was "a missed opportunity", as more should have been done by the world's most powerful nations in the face of this once-in-a-generation pandemic.

Countries must drop their differences and work together to ensure the global access to vaccines, tests and treatments for everyone who needs them. There will be no way out if the world remains split into vaccine "haves" and "have-nots".

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