More than 100 former prime ministers, presidents and foreign ministers are among the 230 prominent figures who call on the leaders of the mighty G7 Countries to pay two-thirds of the $ 66 billion (£ 46.6 billion) required to vaccinate low-income countries against Covid.
A letter from the Guardian ahead of the G7 summit to host Boris Johnson in Cornwall warns that the heads of state and government of Great Britain, the USA, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and Canada must make “a turning point in global cooperation” in 2021. Less than 2% of people in sub-Saharan Africa have been vaccinated against Covid, while the UK has now vaccinated 70% of its population with at least one dose.
On Sunday, Johnson said he would ask his counterparts at the G7 summit to face “the greatest challenge of the post-war era” by “vaccinating the world by the end of next year,” but did not provide details on funding or dose balancing.
The signatories of the vaccination letter include Gordon Brown and Tony Blair, with the two former prime ministers putting past differences aside to join efforts to put pressure on the G7. Brown said the proposal would cost 30p per person per week in the UK “for the best insurance policy in the world”.
Prominent figures who have signed the letter include former UN Secretary General Ban-Ki Moon, former Irish President Mary Robinson and Taoiseach Bertie Ahern, and 15 former African leaders including Presidents Olusegun Obasanjo from Nigeria, John Mahama from Ghana and FW de Klerk from South Africa.
Other signatories include former UK Development Secretary Lynda Chalker, Virgin founder Sir Richard Branson, the head of the Wellcome Trust, Sir Jeremy Farrar, Nobel Prize laureate in economics, Bengt Holmström and the economist Lord O’Neill.
They argue that the investment is affordable and essential to stop the spread of new coronavirus variants that could undermine current vaccines. “2020 saw global collaboration fail, but 2021 may usher in a new era. Nobody is nowhere safe from Covid-19 until everyone is safe everywhere, “they say.
“G7 and G20 support in making vaccines readily available to low and middle income countries is not an act of charity, but is in the strategic interests of each country as outlined by the IMF [International Monetary Fund] is ‘the best public investment in history’. “
The letter’s signatories say polls suggest the public supports them. A survey commissioned by Save the Children found that 79% of people in the UK who have an opinion believe that the G7 should pay for the security of the world. In five countries – the US, France, Germany and Canada, and the UK – without the “don’t know”, more than 70% thought their country should pay its share.
People of different ages, in different countries, and from different backgrounds agree on the need for fair access to vaccines, said Kirsty McNeill, executive director of Save the Children, a member of a coalition of 75 organizations called Crack. is that the 12 million people represent the crises. They want global action against Covid, climate change and support for struggling communities.
“They want the G7 to make the world safe again. Your public will accept nothing less than a serious and fully funded plan to overcome the global Covid crisis, “she said.
The global vaccine effort is estimated to require an estimated $ 66 billion over two years. Former leaders say the G7 should pay two-thirds of the cost, depending on the size of their economies.
“Paying the G7 is not a charity, it is self-protection to stop the spread, mutation and return of the disease that threatens us all,” Brown said. “The cost of the best insurance policy in the world is just 30p per person per week in the UK. The savings from vaccinations are expected to reach around $ 9 trillion by 2025. “
The first step is for the G7 countries to provide 67% of the funds required for the United Nations vaccine, testing and treatment program, the so-called Access to Covid-19 Tools Accelerator (ACT-A). A total of $ 650 billion in special drawing rights granted by the IMF to low-income countries could enable them to pay their share, Brown said.
“I was concerned with the question of how we pay for this burden-sharing formula. People will say we don’t have enough money, ”he told the Guardian. “Every country will get this grant, this money from the International Monetary Fund. You’re about to get $ 21 billion from the IMF. That would enable them to pay for this and pay their share of everything else. “
The G7 should also lead the way in dose sharing, voluntary licensing agreements and temporary patent waivers to enable vaccine manufacturing to begin on all continents, the letter said. This would require pharmaceutical companies to share the technological know-how and skills to manufacture vaccines, as well as the formula.
“The global direction of economic policy is of crucial importance. We have been fortunate that most countries followed similar guidelines in the initial recovery from Covid-19 last year, which resulted in an acceptable level of political focus. What we need now in this next phase is an agreed global growth plan with coordinated monetary and fiscal interventions to prevent an uneven and unbalanced recovery – and ensure a more inclusive, fairer and greener future, ”she added.