G7 Summit 2021: How Are World Leaders Planning to Combat COVID?

·5 min read

At the ongoing G7 Summit, global leaders gathered to outline a plan to offset the toll of COVID-19 and future pandemics.

The G7 summit comprises US, UK, France, Germany, Italy, Canada, and Japan. This year, UK holds the presidency and has also invited India, along with Australia, South Korea and South Africa.

The summit witnessed a hybrid of physical and virtual participation, amid the second wave of the pandemic.

The UK has outlined four priority areas to be discussed at length during the summit: The global recovery from coronavirus while strengthening resilience against future pandemics; promoting future prosperity by championing free and fair trade; tackling climate change and preserving the planet’s biodiversity; and championing shared values and open societies.

Also Read: 'One Earth One Health': PM Shares Appreciation for G7's COVID Help

What Was Discussed?

Global leaders discussed the ways to reduce time taken to develop, license vaccines, treatments and diagnostics.

In addition, the possibility of coronavirus outbreak from a lab in China was also taken into consideration by the WHO, said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the WHO’s director general.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres backed India and South Africa's initiatives to waive intellectual property protection for COVID-19 vaccines and products.

The US and Australia also backed the initiative by India and South Africa at the WTO, raising hopes of expanding the supply of vaccines at affordable rates for developing/underdeveloped nations.

Britain discussed in length about the setting up of a new animal vaccine development centre that will aim at stopping viruses from jumping into the human population, to prevent future pandemics.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau led a G7 discussion of China on Saturday, 12 June, and called on leaders to come up with a unified approach to the challenges posed by the People's Republic, a source told Reuters. G7 leaders reached broad alignment on building a concerted approach to China.

US President Joe Biden and French President Emmanuel Macron discussed cooperation on the pandemic.

"We have to deal with this pandemic, and COVID-19. We have to face a lot of challenges, a lot of crises, climate change, and for all these issues, what we need is cooperation, and I think it's great to have a US President part of the club and very willing to cooperate," Macron said.

Prime Minister Draghi of Italy highlighted the G7 commitment to donate COVID-19 vaccines globally, and to build back better global health security for the future. President Biden welcomed Italy’s leadership of the G20 this year and commended its focus on people, planet and prosperity.

Meanwhile, Secretary General of United Nations, Antonio Guterres warned that if people in developing countries were not inoculated quickly, the virus could mutate further and become resistant to the new vaccines.

"We need more than that. We need a global vaccination plan. We need to act with a logic, with a sense of urgency, and with the priorities of a war economy, and we are still far from getting that," he said.

What Was Pledged?

In the context of COVID-19, here's what the global leaders pledged:

  • The G7 leaders pledged to donate 1 billion vaccine doses to poor countries.

  • US President Joe Biden and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced the donation of 500 million and 100 million vaccines respectively for the world's poorest nations.

  • Meanwhile, Canada is expected to commit to sharing up to 100 million doses and other pledges may follow after UK Prime Minister Borris Johnson urged G7 leaders to help inoculate the world's nearly 8 billion people against the coronavirus by the end of next year.

What Were the Criticisms?

British foreign minister Dominic Raab had warned that other countries were using vaccines as diplomatic tools to secure influence.

Oxfam – an NGO working together to end the injustice of poverty in the world would need 11 billion doses to end the pandemic.

"If the best G7 leaders can manage is to donate 1 billion vaccine doses then this summit will have been a failure," Oxfam's health policy manager Anna Marriott said, as quoted by news agency Reuters.

French President Emmanuel Macron criticized that intellectual property rights should not hinder access to vaccines during a pandemic.

Former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, said the G7 pledges were more akin to "passing round the begging bowl" than a real solution."It's a catastrophic failure if we can't go away in the next week or two ... with a plan that actually rids the world of COVID now we've got a vaccine," he told Reuters.

Alex Harris at Wellcome, a London-based science and health charitable foundation, challenged the G7 to show the political leadership the crisis demanded.

"What the world needs is vaccines now, not later this year," he said. "We urge G7 leaders to raise their ambition."

What Was India's Stand?

Prime Minister Narendra Modi participated virtually in the outreach sessions of the Group of Seven (G7) on Saturday, 12 June, where he said that the summit should send out a message of "One Earth One Health" for the whole world.

He also expressed appreciation for the support extended by the G7 and other guest countries during the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic in India.

The PM also reportedly committed India's support for collective endeavours to improve global health governance.

He called for global unity, leadership, and solidarity to prevent future pandemics, emphasising on the special responsibility of democratic and transparent societies in this regard.

Further, PM Modi, as per a government press release, “explained India’s successful use of open source digital tools for contact tracing and vaccine management, and conveyed India's willingness to share its experience and expertise with other developing countries.”

According to ANI, PM Modi also sought the G7's support for the proposal moved at the WTO by India and South Africa, for a TRIPS (The Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights) waiver on COVID related technologies

(With inputs from Reuters)

Also Read: China, COVID, Climate: What Is Being Discussed at G7 Summit?

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