UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres on Friday pushed rich nations to massively scale up deliveries of coronavirus vaccines to developing nations to halt the pathogen's fast-spreading and deadly mutant strains.
Addressing finance ministers from the G20 economies in Venice, Italy, Mr Guterres said the one billion doses already pledged fell short of the 11 billion needed to vaccinate 70 per cent of humanity.
“Many developed countries appear to be overcoming the pandemic, but developing countries are still struggling to survive, let alone recover,” the UN secretary general said.
“This calls for the greatest global public health campaign in history, to vaccinate everyone, everywhere.”
This week’s G20 talks are focused mainly on setting a global floor for corporate tax rates.
A draft communique for the meeting calls for faster distribution of Covid-19 vaccines, drugs and tests across the world, but makes no new pledges to the UN-backed Covax programme for equitable vaccine distribution.
It also calls on the International Monetary Fund to come up with ways for countries to steer the organisation's resources towards needier nations.
“A global vaccine gap threatens us all because as the virus mutates, it could become even more transmissible or even more deadly,” Mr Guterres said.
The talks took place after the global coronavirus death toll reached four million.
WHO Chief Scientist Soumya Swaminathan on Friday said infection rates were rising across most regions of the world as the Delta variant spreads, showing the pandemic is not on the wane.
“In the last 24 hours, close to 500,000 new cases have been reported and about 9,300 deaths,” Ms Swaminathan told Bloomberg Television.
“Now that’s not a pandemic that’s slowing down.”
The G20 members — including the US, Japan, Britain, France, Germany and India — account for more than 80 per cent of the global economy, 75 per cent of trade and 60 per cent of the world’s population.