G-7 leaders pledge over 1 billion coronavirus vaccine doses for poorer nations

G-7 leaders pledge over 1 billion coronavirus vaccine doses for poorer nations

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LONDON — President Joe Biden and his fellow Group of Seven leaders agreed to donate 1 billion coronavirus vaccine doses to poorer countries over the next year, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson told reporters as the summit wrapped up on Sunday.

The doses will be both direct transfers of vaccines and funding to COVAX, a global vaccine buying system backed by the World Health Organization and Gavi, the vaccine alliance, he told a news conference in Carbis Bay, a small town in Cornwall around 500 miles west of London.

But the commitment falls far short of the 11 billion doses the World Health Organization said are needed to vaccinate at least 70 percent of the world’s population.

“The world was looking to us to reject some of the selfishness and nationalist approaches that have marred the initial global response to the pandemic,” Johnson said.

Other pledges were also expected on climate change, China, along with plans to help speed up the funding of infrastructure projects in developing nationsand making multinational corporations pay their fair share of taxes.

Final details on any pledges are due later Sunday in an expected end-of-summit communique.

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On his first trip abroad as president, Biden sought to make countering China a significant part of the G-7 summit, but it has remained unclear whether the other six nations — Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United Kingdom — would chastise Beijing for repression of its Uyghur minority and other rights abuses.

A plan to offer developing nations an infrastructure scheme that could rival China’s huge Belt and Road initiative was also on the agenda.

China, the world’s second largest economy, is not part of the bloc and on Sunday, a spokesman for the country’s embassy in London cautioned that the days when “small” groups of countries decided the fate of the world were long gone.

After strained ties between former President Donald Trump and Western allies, Biden’s arrival was welcomed by fellow leaders, with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson hailing him a “breath of fresh air.”

French President Emmanuel Macron also said that it was “great to have a U.S. president part of the club and very willing to cooperate.”

G-7 leaders are also expected to commit on Sunday to increase their climate finance contributions to meet an overdue spending pledge of $100 billion a year, in a bid to help poorer countries cut carbon emissions and cope with global warming.

British naturalist David Attenborough also addressed the leaders via video on Sunday and warned that the “natural world today is greatly diminished” and pressed for urgent action.

“The decisions we make this decade — in particular the decisions made by the most economically advanced nations — are the most important in human history,” Attenborough said.

Some environmentalist groups said the pledges did not go far enough. Greenpeace U.K. accused Johnson of producing “reheated old promises” and said it would take “nothing for granted” until nations came up with the money.

As the host of the summit, the U.K. was on a charm offensive, deploying the royal family to meet world leaders on Friday. But the consequences of its departure from the European Union also hung over the meeting, as Johnson clashed with E.U. officials over the treatment of goods in Northern Ireland after Brexit.

Nonetheless the leaders smiled for pictures on the beach during a barbecue Saturday night and watched an aeronautic display by the Royal Air Force Red Arrows. Biden and his wife Jill surprised locals when they attended a small Catholic church for a service on Sunday morning, by the coast on the tip of southwest England.

Later on Sunday, Biden will travel to Windsor Castle to have tea with Queen Elizabeth II.

Reuters and The Associated Press contributed.

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