The G7 summit will be remembered as an ‘unforgivable moral failure’ after leaders failed to finalise a plan to vaccinate the world against Covid, Gordon Brown has claimed.
The former prime minister warned ‘thousands’ of unvaccinated people in poor nations will die as a result of the ‘missed opportunity’ in Cornwall last week.
Boris Johnson hailed the summit as a ‘triumph’ after the heads of the world’s leading democracies yesterday committed to providing 1billion vaccine doses over the next year.
But the pledge was criticised by Mr Brown and charities for being far short of the 11bn jabs the World Health Organization says are needed to end the pandemic.
Experts have repeatedly said vaccinating the global population will prevent troubling new Covid variants from spawning, as well as save countless lives.
Mr Brown told Sky News: ‘When we needed 11billion vaccines, we’ve only got offered a plan for 1billion.
‘I think this summit will also go down as an unforgivable moral failure, when the richest countries are sitting around the table with the power to do something about it.’
It also emerged that only 870million of the 1billion doses will be directly donated to impoverished nations, with the remaining 130m distributed through a global vaccine sharing programme.
Oxfam said the 1bn headline figure was an attempt by the G7 — made up of Britain, the US, Canada, Germany, France, Italy and Japan — to ‘cook the books’.
Speaking at a news conference yesterday marking the end of the three-day summit in Carbis Bay, Mr Johnson said he ‘really must reject’ claims the vaccine pledge had been a failure.
The G7 summit – which saw leaders from the world’s leading democracies meet in Cornwall last week – will be remembered as an ‘unforgivable moral failure’, a former UK prime minister has said
Gordon Brown blasted the G7’s commitment to deliver 1billion vaccine doses to poor nations over the next year. He claimed thousands of people would die from the disease because the pledge did not go far enough
The World Health Organization has said wealthy nations need to donate at least 11bn doses to get 70 per cent of the world’s population immunised and effectively end the pandemic. Pictured: Hospital staff transport a Covid patient in New Delhi
Mr Brown told Sky’s Trevor Phillips on Sunday earlier in the day: ‘We will have a huge problem of a division between the richest countries that are safe and the poorest countries that are not safe.
‘The problem will come back to haunt the richest countries because we will have contagion spreading that will hurt even the people who are vaccinated because of mutations and variants.’
Responding to the comments while closing up the summit on Sunday, Mr Johnson said: ‘I really must reject that.
‘This is another billion (doses) made up of a massive contribution by the US, other friends — the UK putting in another 100million.
Figures from an Oxford University-backed website shows the nations that have managed to achieve the best vaccination rates. Israel, for example, has jabbed more than 60 per cent of the country’s population
Separate data also shows the countries that have dished out the most vaccines, with India closest to the 200million mark
G7 divided on lab leak: Biden says it may have been an ‘experiment gone awry’ – but UK says it ‘most likely’ came from animals
World leaders are split on the theory that Covid leaked from a lab – with Joe Biden giving credence to the theory even as Boris Johnson sought to downplay it.
The US President told reporters at the end of the G7 conference in Cornwall that he is ‘undecided’ on the lab-leak theory because some intelligence agencies back it.
But the UK Prime Minister took a slightly different tone, saying ‘it doesn’t look as thought this particular disease… came from a lab’ – though added that he is ‘keeping an open mind about that’.
The pair spoke as G7 leaders jointly called for a fresh investigation into the virus’s origins, after a WHO report released early this year was widely panned.
Biden, who has ordered his own intelligence review of the origins of COVID-19, called on China to cooperate with the Phase 2 investigation by the WHO.
Biden said it was important to get access to uncover ‘whether or not this was a consequence of a from the marketplace of bat interfacing with animals in the environment that caused this COVID-19, or whether it was an experiment gone awry in the laboratory.’
He was referencing the possibility, that many scientists and public officials are now embracing as a possibility, that the virus escaped from a lab in Wuhan, China.
‘This is June to June, now until next June, and don’t forget this vaccine has literally only been invented very recently, these vaccines have only come onstream very recently.’
He added the G7 were ‘going flat out and we are producing vaccines as fast as we can, and distributing them as fast as we can’.
The PM said the plan to vaccinate the world by the end of 2022 will be ‘very largely thanks to the efforts of the countries who have come here today’.
The UK is expected to contribute 100million doses within 12 months as part of the pledge.
US President Joe Biden has already promised to donate half a billion Pfizer vaccines for 92 low and lower-middle income countries and the African Union.
The G7 leaders are yet to set out a plan to expand vaccine manufacturing in order to achieve that goal.
The seven member countries are also split over whether to allow the waiving of jab patents, to allow nations like India and South Africa to produce already approved jabs like AstraZeneca’s and Pfizer’s domestically.
The US and France are in favour of the move but the UK and Germany have opposed it, saying it would stunt future innovation.
Asked why he did not support waiving intellectual property rights on vaccines, Mr Johnson said: ‘The crucial thing is to make sure we build up capacity, build up manufacturing capacity – fill and finish and manufacturing – around the world, particularly in Africa.
‘I think we should be sharing knowledge as much as we can, whilst obviously protecting the… incentives for innovation. You’ve got to accomplish both things at once.’
The scale of the 1bn vaccine dose pledge was criticised by Oxfam, with the charity’s head of inequality policy Max Lawson condemning the G7 for not backing the waiving of intellectual property rights on the jabs.
‘A billion vaccine doses donated would have been a drop in the bucket, but they didn’t even manage that,’ he said.
‘Sharing vaccines will only get us so far – we need all G7 nations to follow the lead of the US, France and over 100 other nations in backing a waiver on intellectual property.
‘By holding vaccine recipes hostage, the virus will continue raging out of control in developing countries and put millions of lives at risk.’
The WHO has said that 11billion doses are needed to vaccinate 70 per cent of the world’s population and achieve ‘herd immunity’, effectively ending the pandemic.