Covid-19: G20 promises to guarantee “affordable and equitable” access to vaccines

Angela Merkel nevertheless said she was “worried that nothing has yet been done” in practice to ensure vaccination in poor countries.

It was during an unprecedented virtual summit that the leaders of the G20 promised Sunday to “stop at any effort” to guarantee equitable access to vaccines against the Covid-19. A voluntarism, however, tempered by statements from Angela Merkel in particular, “worried” about the slow progress in this area. “We will not back down from any effort to ensure affordable and equitable access (to vaccines, tests and treatments, editor’s note) for all,” they write in their final declaration.

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The summit of the world’s 20 greatest economic powers was held in a virtual format that takes away much of its luster, and under the presidency of Saudi Arabia, which drew strong criticism from human rights organizations. As the pandemic has killed nearly 1.4 million people around the world, presidents and heads of government promise to “fill the funding needs that still exist” to ensure that vaccines do not benefit only the countries most. rich, when they themselves are already setting up large-scale vaccination campaigns. The United States said on Sunday that it hopes to start theirs before mid-December.

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$ 4 billion in emergency

The Center for Global Development has calculated that rich countries have already reserved 1.1 billion doses of the future vaccine from Pfizer / BionTceh, one of the most advanced, out of an announced total of 1.3 billion doses produced per year. next. The United Nations, fearing the emergence of “vaccine nationalism”, calls for urgently finding $ 4.2 billion to guarantee, under the leadership of the World Health Organization (WHO), equitable access to the vaccine . An amount to which the G20 has not expressly committed.

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German Chancellor Angela Merkel, in power for exactly 15 years on Sunday, said she was “worried that nothing has yet been done” in concrete terms to ensure vaccination in poor countries. “We need more funding”, underlined after the summit the president of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen. French President Emmanuel Macron called on his counterparts to “go further faster,” according to the Elysee, by donating doses, forging industrial partnerships or even by sharing intellectual property. The NGO Oxfam criticized a “total gap between the calls (from Europeans in particular) to make the vaccine a ‘global public good’ and the race for the vaccine that they maintain”.

Debt of poor countries discussed

Another subject on which the G20 was expected: the debt of poor countries, which is soaring because of the economic cataclysm caused by the pandemic. G20 leaders “promise to implement” an already adopted debt service suspension initiative, which allows poor countries to defer interest payments until June 2021.

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But while the United Nations hoped that this period would be extended until the end of 2021, the G20 is relying on its finance ministers to “examine” this issue next spring. Beyond the pandemic, “we agreed on a common language on climate, trade, investments. This is very important because, during the last summits, we were unable to produce a final press release which is supported by everyone, “said OECD Secretary General Angel Gurria to AFP.

Climate promises

On the environment, exit in particular the separate paragraph that the United States had inserted in the text concluding the G20 summit in Osaka last year, to clearly mark their difference in this area. In the one that concludes the G20 under Saudi presidency, the great powers promise to “face the most pressing environmental challenges”. But the rest of the declaration carefully differentiates between the signatories of the Paris Agreement and the others, the United States therefore – even though President-elect Joe Biden has promised to bring his country back to the system.

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And despite everything, tensions arose. Donald Trump once again castigated the Paris Agreement on Sunday which he said “was designed to kill the American economy“. Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, a notorious climate skeptic, swept aside criticism of the increase in deforestation in Brazil, “demagogic attacks” according to him, which emanate from “less competitive” countries.

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