UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson tells G7 summit the world must unite to overcome pandemic

G7 leaders meet as global drive towards Covid-19 vaccine equity gathers pace

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UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Friday urged G7 countries to lead the way in providing equitable access to Covid-19 vaccines as European countries pledged to ensure the world’s poorest nations are inoculated from the virus.

Mr Johnson, hosting a meeting of G7 leaders, said the UK would share surplus doses with the Covax initiative, which is seeking fair distribution of vaccines particularly among developing countries.

"We've got to make sure the whole world is vaccinated because this is a global pandemic and it's no use one country being far ahead of another, we've got to move together," Mr Johnson told the summit.

"One of the things that I know that colleagues will be wanting to do is to ensure that we distribute vaccines at cost around the world – make sure everybody gets the vaccines that they need so that the whole world can come through this pandemic together."

Mr Johnson wants the G7 – France, Germany, Italy, Canada, Japan, the US and UK – to back his 100-day target for developing vaccines against new diseases, cutting the current timetable by two thirds.

He asked experts in the UK to work with international partners to advise the G7 on how to boost development, treatments and tests for common pathogens.

“Perhaps more than ever, the hopes of the world rest on the shoulders of scientists and over the past year, like countless times before, they have risen to the challenge,” Mr Johnson said before the G7 meeting.

“The development of viable coronavirus vaccines offers the tantalising prospect of a return to normality but we must not rest on our laurels. As leaders of the G7 we must say today: never again.

“By harnessing our collective ingenuity, we can ensure we have the vaccines, treatments and tests to be battle-ready for future health threats as we beat Covid-19 and build back better together."

The EU announced on Friday that it will double its contribution to the Covax programme to $1.2 billion, with another $121.4 million funding vaccination campaigns in Africa.

"With this new financial boost we want to make sure vaccines are soon delivered to low- and middle-income countries because we will only be safe if the whole world is safe," European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said at the G7 meeting.

On Thursday, French President Emmanuel Macron suggested that western countries could transfer 3 to 5 per cent of their stock of Covid-19 vaccines to Africa.