G-7 vows to donate 1 billion Covid vaccine doses to poorer countries

Leaders also criticise China over human rights in Xinjiang and demand investigation into Covid-19 origins in China

CARBIS BAY, ENGLAND: The Group of Seven (G-7) leaders yesterday vowed to donate one billion coronavirus vaccine doses to poorer countries, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced, as the group of leading economies try to redress stark global inequalities in vaccinations.

"I am pleased to announce that this weekend, leaders have pledged over one billion doses, either directly or through funding to Covax," he said, referring to the international vaccine-sharing facility as the seven-member bloc ended a three-day summit in south-west England.

This is a small step compared with the 11 billion doses the World Health Organisation says is needed to vaccinate at least 70 per cent of the world's population by mid-2022.

The group also formally backed ramping up collective action on climate change and conservation, vowing to drastically limit government investment in coal this year and protect swathes of land and ocean over this decade.

"We commit to... halving our collective emissions over the two decades to 2030, increasing and improving climate finance to 2025 and to conserve or protect at least 30 per cent of our land and oceans by 2030," the group said .

The G-7 leaders yesterday also scolded China over human rights in Xinjiang, called for Hong Kong to keep a high degree of autonomy, and demanded a full and thorough investigation of the origins of the coronavirus in China.

After discussing how to come up with a unified position on China, they issued a highly critical communique that delved into what are for China some of the most sensitive issues, including Taiwan.

"We will promote our values, including by calling on China to respect human rights and fundamental freedoms, especially in relation to Xinjiang, and those rights, freedoms and high degree of autonomy for Hong Kong enshrined in the Sino-British Joint Declaration."

"We also call for a timely, transparent, expert-led, and science-based WHO-convened phase 2 Covid-19 origins study including, as recommended by the experts' report, in China," the bloc added.

Before the G-7 criticism emerged, China cautioned that the days when "small" groups of countries decided the fate of the world was long gone.

The group also said it underscored "the importance of peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait, and encourage the peaceful resolution of cross-Strait issues".

US President Joe Biden said yesterday the G-7 had rallied the world's democracies to deliver on the challenges of the age. "Everyone... understood and understands both the seriousness and the challenges that we are up against, and the responsibility of our... democracies to step up and deliver for the rest of the world." - REUTERS, AFP