G7 pledges 870mn COVID-19 vaccine doses; Half by 2021 end

By Ashika Rajan, Trainee Reporter
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A senior UN official praised the determination of the Group of Seven (G7) leading industrialized nations to share at least 870 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine promptly, ensuring worldwide access and helping to end the acute phase of the pandemic.

Ms. Henrietta Fore, Executive Director of the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), said in a statement that “equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines represents the clearest pathway out of this pandemic for all of us, children included, and commitments announced by G7 members are an important step in this direction.”

Building on the momentum of the G20 Health Summit and the Gavi COVAX AMC Summit, in a landmark agreement at the G7 Summit, the global leaders pledged, intending to deliver at least half by the end of 2021.

UN Secretary-General Mr. António Guterres also stated that despite “unequal and very unfair” access to inoculations, “it is in the interest of everybody that everybody gets vaccinated sooner rather than later.”

The G7 also reaffirmed their support for COVAX, the UN-led initiative for equitable vaccine distribution, which they describe as “the primary route for providing vaccines to the poorest countries.”

COVAX initiative

Meanwhile, the COVAX alliance welcomed the G7’s commitment, particularly their sustained support for large exports and for promoting voluntary licensing and non-profit worldwide production. The partners look forward to “seeing doses flowing to countries” as soon as possible.

COVAX will work with the G7 and other countries that have stepped up to transfer doses as quickly and fairly as possible to assist the global response to resolve COVID-19’s short-term supply shortages and reduce the prospect of future deadly variations.

Noting the need for a “ramp up”, in both the amount and pace of supply, the top UNICEF official stated that when it comes to ending the COVID-19 pandemic, “our best interests and our best natures align.This crisis will not be over until it is over for everyone.”

Mr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO), pointed out that several nations are experiencing an increase in instances due to a lack of vaccines. While grateful for the generous announcements of vaccine donations, he stressed, that “we need more, and we need them faster.”

As many high-income countries begin to contemplate post-vaccination life, the future in low-income countries appears gloomy. “We are particularly worried about the surges in South America, Asia, and Africa,” UNICEF Chief added.

Furthermore, as the pandemic rages, the virus mutates and develops new forms, posing a hazard to both the vaccinated and the unvaccinated.

Ms. Fore remarked that “donating doses now is smart policy that speaks to our collective best interests,” adding that, in addition to vaccine pledges, “distribution and readiness need clear timelines”  as to when they would be available, particularly in countries with inadequate health infrastructure.

She concluded that “the COVID-19 pandemic has upended the lives of children, affecting every aspect of their lives: their health, education, protection, and future prosperity. Now, more than ever, what we do today will have a significant and lasting impact on our collective tomorrow. There is no time to waste.”

Related: Vaccinate at least 70% of world population to end pandemic swiftly: WHO Europe Director