Simon Ateba is Chief White House Correspondent for Today News Africa. Simon covers the U.S. government, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and other financial and international institutions in Washington D.C. He can be reached on [email protected]
Amnesty International on Friday described the contribution by the G7 countries to global vaccination efforts as “insultingly small” and “an abject moral failure that will ultimately harm rich countries.”
The human rights organization warned that they were “shooting themselves in the foot” by failing to ensure global access to vaccines against COVID-19.
The statement came only hours before the virtual meeting of G7 leaders hosted by the UK government was set to begin.
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“The leaders of G7 nations are shooting themselves in the foot by failing to ensure the equal distribution of coronavirus vaccines globally,” said Netsanet Belay, Research and Advocacy Director at Amnesty International.
“Giving money to COVAX, though welcome, is not enough. And suggestions like sharing a paltry five percent of their vaccine supplies with poor countries are just insultingly small.
“The promise of “building back better” rings hollow when G7 nations are the major culprits in blocking a proposal at the World Trade Organisation to suspend intellectual property rights during the pandemic, which would make it easier for other countries and companies to manufacture vaccines.
“Nor has any G7 country pressed vaccine producers, whom they have funded with vast sums of public money, to share their knowledge and technology through the World Health Organization and therefore allow more vaccines to be produced.
“It is outrageous that these rich nations who have already hoarded most of the world’s vaccine supply are preventing others from producing more of this life-saving medicine.”
The G7 nations, including the European Union, have bought up over half the world’s vaccine supply, despite representing just 13% of the world’s population, and have enough doses on order to vaccinate their populations almost three times over. To date, half (52%) the world’s vaccine doses have been administered in these countries, while 130 countries have yet to administer a single shot.
G7 countries have provided funds to international initiatives such as COVAX that aim to provide vaccines to 20% of people in low-income countries but have blocked other measures that would enable more vaccines to be produced.
G7 leaders, including U.S. President Joseph R. Biden Jr. were set to announce additional funding to vaccination efforts on Friday. France, the UK and others will make similar small financial contributions announcements.
But Amnesty International is warning that their contributions are not going far enough.
“This is an abject moral failure and will ultimately come to harm G7 countries,” said Netsanet Belay.
“As long as the virus continues to spread and mutate elsewhere, no one is safe until we are all safe. We are calling on G7 leaders to recognize the unique position they are in to change the course of this pandemic and do everything in their power to remove the roadblocks to scaling up global vaccine production.”
The rights group listed a breakdown of distribution and position of each G7 member.
- Canada – has secured enough doses to vaccinate its population 5 times over. It has not endorsed C-TAP’s solidarity call to action and is blocking progress towards adoption of the temporary TRIPS waiver proposal at the WTO.
- France, Germany and Italy are members of the EU, which have secured enough doses to vaccinate the EU population more than 2 times over. None has endorsed C-TAP’s Solidarity call to action and the EU is opposing the temporary TRIPS waiver proposal at the WTO.
- Japan – has secured enough doses to vaccinate its population 1.2 times over. It has not endorsed C-TAP’s Solidarity call to action and is opposing the temporary TRIPS waiver proposal at the WTO.
- United Kingdom – has secured enough doses to vaccinate its population more than 4 times over. It has not endorsed C-TAP’s Solidarity call to action and is opposing the temporary TRIPS waiver proposal at the WTO.
- United States – has secured enough doses to vaccinate its population more than 3 times over. It has not endorsed C-TAP’s Solidarity call to action and is opposing the temporary TRIPS waiver proposal at the WTO.