ON SUNDAY, leaders of the world’s wealthiest democracies pledged one billion covid19 vaccines to poorer nations in the coming year. This was the outcome of the first face-to-face meeting between these leaders in two years.
The commitment made by the Group of Seven or G7 came after the UK last Friday announced it would donate 100 million of its surplus vaccines, and days after the US pledged 80 million, of which six million is earmarked for Latin America and the Caribbean.
The other G7 members – Canada, Japan, France, Germany and Italy – also individually made similar promises. We would like to take comfort in all these gestures.
However, the fact that these leaders, each of whom has been vaccinated, were able to meet in person at a scenic, seaside venue in Cornwall, UK, over the weekend was itself testimony to the inequity they now seek to address.
Many of the world’s superpowers have, in some form or fashion, lit the fire that the G7 now seeks to extinguish.
They have contributed to the global inequity that has seen some nations move full speed ahead with the resumption of economic activity while the rest of the world, including TT, was left to languish.
EU Council president Charles Michel, who attended the G7 summit, is on record as accusing the UK and the US of banning vaccine exports. While these claims have been denied, many will remember the early phase of global vaccinations when such countries were reportedly hoarding.
Indeed, the UK does not support the waiver of patents that would allow wider manufacture of vaccines (the US, which is also buying 500 million vaccines for the WHO’s Covax facility over two years, does).
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson succeeded in getting the G7 nations to agree on a course of action in the shadow of scandal and acrimony with regard to his failure to uphold international agreements. Can we truly rely on a pledge from the G7 when the UK cannot be relied on to uphold its own Brexit deal?
The communique issued on Sunday was also silent on a specific call made by our Prime Minister, and supported by the WHO and Caricom nation states, for a global summit on vaccine inequity.
Such a summit would give all nations a chance to air their concerns. Instead, G7 nations have unilaterally imposed their own solution after fanning the flames.
We are in this predicament because instead of global unity on this matter, it has been a case of every man for himself. Therefore, we welcome any generosity that will help the world out of this mess.
But we call for a specific timeline of implementation as well as a more robust and specific commitment to the WHO Covax facility, which was designed to prevent this terrible situation in the first place.