The leaders of the G7 group of wealthy nations have failed to deliver 1 billion doses of Covid vaccine directly to poorer countries over the next year.
The final communiqué of the Boris Johnson summit in Cornwall showed that, despite a high-profile commitment to one billion, leaders only managed to share 870 million reserve cans next year.
The document insists that this, along with separate financial commitments, would mean that the G7 has shared more than two billion doses since the pandemic began and hit its target of 1 billion for the next year.
But the leaders face criticism from people like Oxfam, who accused the leaders of “boiling the books” with their vaccine numbers.
“A billion doses of vaccine would have been a drop in the ocean, but they didn’t even make that,” the charity said.
Earlier, former UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown said the summit would be seen as an “unforgivable moral failure” as the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that it would take 11 billion doses – more than ten times the promised figure – to eradicate the pandemic.
At his final press conference of the summit, Johnson rejected Brown’s criticism and highlighted US President Joe Biden’s commitment to delivering 500 million Pfizer vaccines to 92 low and middle income countries and the African Union.
“This is another billion made up of a massive contribution from the United States and other friends,” said the UK Prime Minister.
He said the UK contribution amounts to an additional 100 million of the vaccines from now until next June.
He said: “I think that, of the 1.5 billion vaccines that have been distributed around the world, the people of this country should be very proud that half a billion of them are the result of actions taken by the UK government work with Oxford scientists and AstraZeneca to distribute it at cost. “
He added: “We’re going full throttle and producing vaccines as quickly as possible and distributing them as quickly as possible”.
The goal of vaccinating the world by the end of next year will be achieved “very largely thanks to the efforts of the countries that came here today,” according to Johnson.
But Oxfam’s head of inequality, Max Lawson, said leaders “cooked the books” on vaccines and “completely failed” to tackle the challenge of the biggest health emergency in a century.
“This G7 summit will live in shame,” he concluded.
Edwin Ikhuoria of Anti-Poverty Campaign One said: “During the summit we heard strong words from the heads of state and government, but without the new investments to realize their ambitions.
“Above all, the failure to get life-saving vaccines across the planet as quickly as possible means that this was not the historic moment people around the world were hoping for and brings us little closer to ending the pandemic come.”
What else was agreed at the G7 summit?
The G7 leaders again called for further investigation into the origin of Covid-19 after Biden surprisingly decided to instruct US intelligence agencies to further investigate the Wuhan “laboratory leak” theory.
The summit’s final communiqué called for a “timely, transparent, expert-led and scientifically sound WHO” [World Health Organisation]-Convened Phase 2 Covid-19 origin study “, also in China.
Johnson said the best advice he could get was that the virus skipped some species from an animal.
However, he said it was important to stay open about what exactly happened.
“Right now, our advice is that it doesn’t look like this particular zoonotic disease came from a laboratory,” he said.
“Of course, any reasonable person would want to be open about this.”
America’s caution about China continues despite Biden replacing Donald Trump in the White House.
The president managed to convince leaders to join a competitor in Beijing’s influential Belt and Road investment program to counter growing Chinese influence.
The Build Back Better World (B3W) program will fund infrastructure, including green technologies, and support growth in developing countries.
The leaders meanwhile pledged to urge China to “respect human rights and fundamental freedoms,” including in Xinjiang, where Uyghurs have suffered brutal human rights violations, some of which are said to amount to genocide.
It also raised the situation in Hong Kong and urged Beijing to respect its “rights, freedoms and high degree of autonomy”.
However, reports suggest that there has been some disagreement over how strong the language should be against China.
The G7 is committed to supporting a green revolution that creates jobs, reduces emissions and seeks to limit the rise in global temperature to 1.5 degrees
The leaders set out the steps they will take to reduce carbon emissions, including measures like ending the use of unabated coal-fired power – although they could not set a deadline for doing so.
Leaders have pledged to suspend funding for overseas carbon-emitting projects by the end of the year, but failure to agree on a timetable could worry Johnson ahead of the Cp26 climate summit in Glasgow, where he hopes to reach much larger global agreement.
The G7 has also set itself the goal of preserving or protecting at least 30% of its land and marine areas by 2030 in order to achieve this level of protection worldwide.
However, Oxfam criticized the failure to make new climate finance pledges, arguing that developing countries were looking for progress before the Cop26.
“Vague promises of new funding for green development projects shouldn’t detract from this goal,” said the charity.