Campaigners are calling on G7 leaders to take action to close the coronavirus vaccine gap between their nations and poorer countries ahead of a meeting of health ministers.
The People’s Vaccine Alliance said that more than a million people have died with Covid-19 since the G7 leaders last met in February, where the politicians made pledges to increase global supplies.
The campaign group, which includes Health Justice Initiative, Oxfam, and Unaids, calculated that people living in G7 countries were 77 times more likely to be offered a vaccine than those living in the world’s poorest countries.
It claims that between them, the G7 were vaccinating at a rate of 4.6 million people a day in May, meaning everyone living in these nations should be fully vaccinated by 8 January 2022 if this rate continues.
However, at the current rate – vaccinating 63,000 people a day – the alliance said it would take low income countries some 57 years for everyone to be fully vaccinated.
The People’s Vaccine Alliance is now urging G7 leaders to “stop making empty promises and protecting the interests of pharmaceutical companies” and to take action to address vaccine inequalities worldwide.
The alliance is calling for G7 leaders to collectively back intellectual property rights on vaccines being waived so that production can be ramped up globally, a proposal supported by the US.
The calls come ahead of Thursday’s UK-hosted G7 health ministers’ meeting, where Health Secretary Matt Hancock is due to meet counterparts from the US, Canada, Japan, France, Germany, Italy and the EU.
Leaders from the G7 group of leading industrialised nations will then meet for a summit in Cornwall next week, where recovery from the pandemic is likely to be on the agenda.
Anna Marriott, Oxfam’s health policy manager, said: “G7 leaders must take this moment to stand on the right side of history by putting their full support behind the vaccine patent waiver supported by more than 100 countries.
“The G7 may be getting the vaccines they need but too much of the world is not and people are paying for patent protection with their lives.”