Boris Johnson says leaders of major developed countries have pledged to provide one billion doses of the Covid vaccine to poor countries – a “big step towards vaccinating the world”.
Speaking at the close of the G7 summit in Cornwall, the Prime Minister said countries rejected “nationalistic approaches”.
He said vaccinating the world would show the benefits of the G7’s democratic values.
There is also a commitment to eliminate their contribution to climate change.
After the first meeting of leaders in two years, Johnson said, “The world expects us to reject some of the selfish and nationalistic approaches that undermined the initial global response to the epidemic, and to devote all our diplomatic, economic and scientific energies to defeating the raven mother permanently.
He said G7 leaders had pledged to provide vaccines – including 100 million from the UK – to poor countries directly or through the World Health Organization’s Covax program.
The summit communiqué pledges to “end the epidemic and prepare for the future by intensifying the international community’s efforts to begin vaccinating the world immediately and to get as many safe vaccines to as many people as possible as quickly as possible”.
It also includes measures to tackle climate change, with leaders committing to reach a net greenhouse gas emissions target by 2050 at the latest and to phase out the majority of coal-fired power plants.
Mr. Johnson rejected the suggestion that the vaccine pledge was a moral failure of the G7 because it was insufficient to meet the needs of the poorest countries.
He pointed to the UK’s involvement in the development of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine.
“Of the 1.5 billion doses of vaccine that have been distributed around the world, I think people in this country should be very proud that 500 million of them have been distributed at cost, as a result of the UK government’s agreement with Oxford and AstraZeneca scientists,” he said.
He added; “We are going full throttle, we are producing vaccines as fast as we can and delivering them as fast as we can.
Mr. Johnson said the goal of vaccinating the world by the end of next year would achieved “in large part through the efforts of the countries that are here today”.
Officials easily surpassed their goal of donating 1 billion doses of Covidien’s vaccine to poor countries next year if funding for future doses is included in each vaccine.
They also pledged to create frameworks to prevent and combat future pandemics. Elsewhere in the 25-page communiqué, there are several references to China, which President Biden says is a departure from previous conferences on the world’s advanced economies.
This time, the commitments made include working together to address China’s impact on global trade.
In the Covidien surge, there was even a reference to Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s flagship domestic policy: the need to reduce inequality by “levelling up”.
Charities and activists issued statements pointing to vague promises and missed opportunities, but Mr. Johnson will feel that post-Brexit Britain delivered a competent and confident diplomatic show.
Mr. Johnson also rejected suggestions that vaccine patents should be abandoned to increase global supply, something the United States supported last month.
He said he wanted to protect “incentives for innovation” while building production capacity, particularly in Africa.
Elsewhere in their communiqué, G-7 leaders also pledged to. Improve early warning systems to prepare for future health crises
Phase out coal-fired power plants without carbon capture technology and raise $100 billion (£70 billion) to help poorer countries cut emissions
Support a green revolution to create jobs, cut emissions and limit global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius.
Revitalise their economies and “develop plans to create jobs, invest in infrastructure, spur innovation, support people and raise standards so that no place or person, regardless of age, race or gender, is left behind.”
“Build back better” by creating a clean and green growth fund for infrastructure development in developing countries.
Address China’s influence on global trade and challenge practices that “undermine the fair and transparent functioning of the global economy.”
Calling on China to respect human rights, especially in the case of Xinjiang, where China has been accused of abuses against Uighur Muslims
Increase the number of girls in school by 40 million by 2026.
The statement calls for a “timely, transparent, expert-led, science-based investigation convened by WHO” to determine the origin of Covid-19.
President Joe Biden has previously said that US intelligence agencies are divide on whether the coronavirus originated from human contact with infected animals or a laboratory accident, a theory rejected by China.
“We’ve been informed that this particular zoonosis does not appear to have come from a laboratory,” Johnson said, but added; “Of course, any reasonable person would want to keep that to themselves.”
French President Emmanuel Macron said the international community needed to clarify the origin of the virus, but said it was up to the WHO to investigate.
A missed opportunity
Mr. Johnson said G7 countries were responsible for 20% of carbon emissions.” It was clear to us this weekend that action must start with us.
However, when asked about the lack of a binding agreement and timetable, the Prime Minister said he would not “pretend our work is done” and that he would “keep everyone in mind” to make further progress ahead of the COP26 summit in Scotland later this year.
Kirsty McNeill of Crack the Crises, a coalition of charities and NGOs including Save the Children and Oxfam, said the G7 summit was a “historic missed opportunity” on Covid-19 and climate change.
The leaders, he said, “came with good intentions but not a chequebook”.
Joanna Rea, of Unicef UK, said the G7 commitment to vaccines was “the start of the action needed to end the epidemic” but called for “a rapid and accelerated delivery of doses over the next three months to ensure millions of vaccines reach people in the countries that need them most”.