BRUSSELS, Belgium – The Group of Seven on Friday more than doubled their contribution to the UN-backed COVAX facility.
The move came after a virtual meeting hosted by British Prime Minister Boris Johnson where the G7 leaders decided to cooperate to cushion the fallout of the coronavirus pandemic.
“We will intensify cooperation on the health response to COVID-19,” the leaders said in a joint statement after the meeting.
“With new contributions from the EU, Germany, Canada, Japan, and US, the G7 has more than doubled its contributions to COVAX to $7.5B,” the UK’s presidency for G7 announced in a tweet.
COVAX was set aiming to ensure an equitable distribution of vaccines to countries and people in need.
US President Joe Biden pledged $4 billion to global vaccine efforts while the EU said it doubled its contribution to COVAX — from €500 million to €1 billion.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel told a news conference in Berlin that her country will contribute an additional €1.5 billion to support global COVID-19 vaccination.
Merkel welcomed financial pledges made by other G7 nations in support of COVAX, and said now it is important to conclude contracts with the vaccine producers and supply vaccine doses to developing nations.
The German chancellor backed French President Emmanuel Macron’s call for industrialized nations to send up to 5% of their purchased vaccine doses to developing countries.
But she said they have not yet decided on a timeframe and the percentage of doses to be allocated for this initiative.
During the virtual meeting, the G7 leaders also agreed on supporting the World Health Organization (WHO)’s “leading and coordinating role” during the pandemic.
Economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic was also on the agenda.
“We have provided unprecedented support for our economies over the past year totalling over $6 trillion across the G7,” the joint statement said.
The leaders reaffirmed their commitment to support the economies of their countries “to protect jobs and support a strong, sustainable, balanced and inclusive recovery.”
They also agreed on making progress “on mitigation, adaptation and finance in accordance with the Paris Agreement.”
The virtual meeting was hosted by Johnson as the UK is the president of G7 for the year. Friday’s meeting is the first gathering of G7 leaders since April 2020, ahead of a summit on June 11-13 this year in Cornwall, southwest England.
The G7, a group of the world’s major economic powers, comprises the US, Canada, Britain, France, Germany, Italy, and Japan. Russia also used to be part of the group since 1998, which was then named G8, but the country was removed in 2014 due to its annexation of Crimea from Ukraine.