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HEARING the G7 leaders’ pledge to donate one billion vaccines would almost make you believe they are philanthropists.
First, they emptied the whole buffet and now they are giving some crumbs to the poor countries.
With their solemn promise, they try to avoid the fundamental discussion about the patents and actually they are trying to counter the influence of China and Russia. What a sick joke!
With much fanfare, G7 leaders announced they will help poorer countries get vaccinated against Covid-19.
The seven countries promised one billion coronavirus shots to the poorest countries.
“We’re going to help lead the world out of this pandemic working alongside our global partners,” US President Joe Biden said at the start of the three-day meeting.
The donation of one billion vaccines may seem like a lot. But Cuba on its own will have produced 100 million doses by the end of 2021.
The woolly rhetoric of Biden and the other G7 leaders hides the real motives of their pledge.
The G7 leaders are not concerned about the fate of poor countries. If they were, they would not have hoarded most of the available vaccines last year to the detriment of the rest of the world.
Another fact is that the US, which accounts for 4 per cent of the world’s population, has itself purchased more than one billion vaccines. That is enough to vaccinate its own population two or three times.
Due to the outrageous hoarding behaviour, the rich countries currently have a combined surplus of no less than 2.5 billion vaccines.
They are now going to give some of it away to the poorer countries.
There are fears that these are unwanted or second-rate vaccines. The rich countries first emptied the buffet and then leave some crumbs to the poor countries. It’s not a pretty sight.
It is indeed about crumbs. The goal of the World Health Organisation is to vaccinate at least 70 per cent of the world’s population within a year. Eleven billion vaccines are needed to achieve that goal.
UN secretary-general Antonio Guterres warns that if people in developing countries are not vaccinated quickly, the virus could mutate further and become resistant to the new vaccines.
“We need more than that,” he said of the G7 plan. “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.”
In order to vaccinate the populations of poorer countries quickly enough, barely $38 billion is needed this year.
But even that they fail. At the moment only half of the amount has been delivered. That’s barely 0.3 per cent of the $5,600bn that rich countries pumped into their economies in response to Covid-19.
The real motives
So the real motives for the donation of the one billion vaccines are not concern or charity for the poorest of the planet but must be sought elsewhere.
First of all, the vaccine pledge is a big diversion to sweep the fundamental and important discussion about the patents under the carpet.
The pharmaceutical giants need not worry. They can continue making money undisturbed.
A second motive is geopolitical. It is with dismay that the West sees China as the big winner in the distribution of vaccines.
At least 70 countries or regions have approved Chinese vaccines or made agreements to receive vaccines from China.
“China is going to be a critically important partner in the long run,” says Richard Hatchett, CEO of the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, one of the groups leading the UN’s programme of vaccine distribution in the developing world.
The same motivation applies to Russia. More than 30 countries agreed to buy or manufacture Sputnik V, the Russian vaccine. The great gesture of the G7 must serve to counter that “vaccination diplomacy.”
Be that as it may, Gordon Brown, former prime minister of Britain, host of the G7, describes the whole plan as “a catastrophic failure.”
“I am afraid they have failed the first test (…) because it looks more like passing the begging bowl round than a comprehensive plan to vaccinate the world.”
All things considered, the G7 leaders’ solemn vaccine pledge will turn out to be the hoax of the year.
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