G20 summit ends with pledge to provide Covid-19 vaccines for all

The leaders of the world’s most powerful nations vowed ‘to spare no effort to protect lives’.

A screenshot from the virtual meeting
A screenshot from the virtual meeting

The leaders of the world’s most powerful nations wrapped up the G20 summit on Sunday, vowing to spare no effort to protect lives and ensure affordable access to Covid-19 vaccines for all people.

The two-day summit of heads of state was held virtually due to the coronavirus pandemic, which has killed at least 1.38 million people globally.

It has wiped out hundreds of millions of jobs and plunged millions into extreme poverty – with the world’s highest death tolls recorded in seven of the G20 countries.

The virus “revealed vulnerabilities in our preparedness and response and underscored our common challenges”, the G20 said in a final statement.

The group vowed “to spare no effort to protect lives”.

The G20, which includes the UK, US, India, China, France, Germany, Japan and others, also stressed the importance of global access to Covid-19 vaccines, drugs and tests.

“We will spare no effort to ensure their affordable and equitable access for all people, consistent with members’ commitments to incentivize innovation,” the statement said.

The G20 expressed support for efforts like Covax, an international initiative to distribute Covid-19 vaccines to countries worldwide.

The US has declined to join under President Donald Trump.

Germany G20
German Chancellor Angela Merkel pledged support for Covax (Hannibal Hanschke/AP)

German Chancellor Angela Merkel told reporters Sunday in Berlin after the virtual summit that Germany had given financial support to the Covax initiative but more money is needed.

The G20 statement did not directly address an urgent appeal by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, who said 28 billion dollars (£20.9 billion) in additional investment is needed for mass manufacturing, procurement and delivery of new Covid-19 vaccines around the world, including four billion dollars (£2.99 billion) immediately.

There is also concern countries such as the UK, US, France and Germany have directly negotiated deals with pharmaceutical companies, meaning the vast majority of the world’s vaccine supply next year is already reserved.

“Fortunately, there’s now hope for vaccines,” Ms Merkel said.

She added “it is important that not only Europe secures vaccines, as the European Union is doing now but … that it is important for the entire world” to have access to vaccines.

Ms Merkel said it is important Covax starts negotiating with the producers of potential vaccines based on the money it already has but she is somewhat worried those negotiations have not happened yet.

Saudi G20
Saudi King Salman said the G20’s message of hope ‘is what the world has been expecting from us’ (Bandar Aljaloud/Saudi Royal Palace/AP)

Saudi Arabia’s King Salman rounded out the summit, saying the G20′s final statement “succeeded in sending out a message of hope and reassurance to our citizens and all people around the world”.

He added: “This is what the world has been expecting from us.

“This achievement today is a culmination of our joint efforts throughout this challenge-fraught year.”

Saudi Arabia presided over the G20 this year and was host of the virtual summit, which was originally intended to be held in-person in Riyadh before the pandemic.

It appeared all G20 countries agreed to the full content of the final statement, with the exception of Turkey, which is due to give a press conference later.

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