Otago Daily Times

G20 push for global vaccine teamwork


BEIJING/DUBAI/WASHINGTON: Leaders of the 20 biggest economies yesterday vowed to ensure a fair distributi­on of Covid19 vaccines, drugs and tests around the world and do what was needed to support poorer countries struggling to recover from the coronaviru­s pandemic.

‘‘We will spare no effort to ensure their affordable and equitable access for all people, consistent with members’ commitment­s to incentivis­e innovation,’’ the leaders said in a draft G20 communique seen by Reuters. ‘‘We recognise the role of extensive immunisati­on as a global public good.’’

The twin crises of the pandemic and an uneven, uncertain global recovery dominated the first day of a twoday summit under the chairmansh­ip of Saudi Arabia, which hands off the rotating presidency of the G20 to Italy next month.

The Covid19 pandemic, which has thrown the global economy into a deep recession this year, and efforts needed to underpin an economic rebound in 2021, were at the top of the agenda.

‘‘We must work to create the conditions for affordable and equitable access to these tools for all peoples,’’ Saudi Arabia’s King Salman bin Abdulaziz said in his opening remarks.

G20 leaders are concerned that the pandemic might further deepen global divisions between the rich and the poor.

European Union urged G20 leaders quickly to put more money into a global project for vaccines, tests and therapeuti­cs — called Access to Covid19 Tools (ACT) Accelerato­r — and its Covax facility to distribute vaccines.

‘‘At the G20 Summit I called for $US4.5 billion ($NZ6.5 billion) to be invested in ACT Accelerato­r by the end of 2020, for procuremen­t & delivery of Covid19 tests, treatments and vaccines everywhere,’’ European Commission head Ursula von der Leyen said on Twitter.

Germany was contributi­ng more than ¤500 million ($NZ855 million) to the effort, Chancellor Angela Merkel told the G20, urging other countries to do their part.

Russian President Vladimir Putin offered to provide Russia’s Sputnik V coronaviru­s vaccine to other countries and said Moscow was also preparing a second and third vaccine.

China, where the pandemic originated a year ago, also offered to cooperate on vaccines. China has five homegrown candidates for a vaccine undergoing the last phase of trials.

United States President Donald Trump, who lost the US presidenti­al election but has refused to concede to former vicepresid­ent Joe Biden, addressed G20 leaders briefly before going golfing. He discussed the need to work together to restore economic growth, White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany said in a summary released late on Saturday.

She made no mention of any US pledge to support the global vaccine distributi­on effort.

To prepare for future outbreaks, the EU is proposing a treaty on pandemics. — Reuters

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