President Joe Biden and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson visit during a bilateral meeting ahead of the G-7 summit, Thursday, June 10, 2021, in Carbis Bay, England. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

President Joe Biden and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson visit during a bilateral meeting ahead of the G-7 summit, Thursday, June 10, 2021, in Carbis Bay, England. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

G-7 gathers to pledge 1B coronavirus vaccine shots for world

Joe Biden commits 500 million doses, Boris Johnson another 100 million

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson greeted world leaders on a wooden boardwalk on the freshly raked sand of Carbis Bay to open the Group of Seven summit Friday, offering elbow bumps to dignitaries gathering for the first time since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. The virus was set to dominate their discussions, with leaders of the wealthy democracies club expected to commit to sharing at least 1 billion vaccine shots with struggling countries.

A commitment from U.S. President Joe Biden to share 500 million doses and one from Johnson for another 100 million shots set the stage for the G-7 meeting under gray and moody skies in southwest England, where leaders will pivot Friday from their “family photo” by the seaside directly into a session on “Building Back Better From COVID-19.”

“We’re going to help lead the world out of this pandemic working alongside our global partners,” Biden said. The G-7 also includes Canada, France, Germany, Italy and Japan.

The leaders hope the meeting in the resort of Carbis Bay will also energize the global economy. On Friday, they are set to formally embrace a global minimum tax of at least 15% on corporations, following an agreement reached a week ago by their finance ministers. The minimum is meant to stop companies from using tax havens and other tools to avoid taxes.

It represents a potential win for the Biden administration, which has proposed a global minimum tax as a way to pay for infrastructure projects, in addition to creating an alternative that could remove some European countries’ digital services taxes that largely hit U.S. tech firms. But the endorsement from the G-7 is just one step in the process; the hope is to get many more countries to sign on, and that could be particularly difficult in nations that depend on a low corporate tax base to survive.

For Johnson, the first G-7 summit in two years — last year’s was scuttled by the pandemic — is a chance to set out his vision of a post-Brexit “Global Britain” as a midsized country with an outsized role in international problem-solving.

It’s also an opportunity to underscore the U.K-U.S. bond, an alliance often called the “special relationship” — but that Johnson said he prefers to call the “indestructible relationship.”

Climate change is also a top issue on the agenda, and hundreds of protesters gathered in Cornwall to urge the leaders to take action. Some activists sent a barge floating off the coast that was carrying large inflatable figures depicting Biden and Johnson. At one protest, demonstrators carried flags that read “G7 drowning in promises” and “Action not words.”

The official summit business kicked off Friday, with the customary formal greeting and a socially distanced group photo. Later the leaders will meet Queen Elizabeth II and other senior royals at the Eden Project, a lush, domed eco-tourism site built in a former quarry.

The G-7 leaders have faced mounting pressure to outline their global vaccine-sharing plans, especially as inequities in supply around the world have become more pronounced. In the U.S., there is a large vaccine stockpile and the demand for shots has dropped precipitously in recent weeks.

Biden said the U.S. will donate 500 million COVID-19 vaccine doses and previewed a coordinated effort by the advanced economies to make vaccination widely and speedily available everywhere. The commitment was on top of 80 million doses Biden has already pledged to donate by the end of June.

Johnson, for his part, said the first 5 million U.K. doses would be shared in the coming weeks, with the remainder coming over the next year. He said he expected the G-7 to commit to 1 billion doses in all.

“At the G-7 Summit I hope my fellow leaders will make similar pledges so that, together, we can vaccinate the world by the end of next year and build back better from coronavirus,” Johnson said in a statement, referencing a slogan that he and Biden have both used.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said she hoped the summit would show the world “we’re not just thinking of ourselves,” while French President Emmanuel Macron welcomed the U.S. commitment and said Europe should do the same. He said France would share at least 30 million doses globally by year’s end; Germany is also planning on donating that amount.

The U.S. commitment is to buy and donate 500 million Pfizer doses for distribution through the global COVAX alliance to 92 lower-income countries and the African Union, bringing the first steady supply of mRNA vaccine to the countries that need it most.

Biden said the U.S.-manufactured doses will be shipped starting in August, with the goal of distributing 200 million by the end of the year. The remaining 300 million doses would be shipped in the first half of 2022. A price tag for the doses was not released, but the U.S. is now set to be COVAX’s largest vaccine donor in addition to its single largest funder with a $4 billion commitment.

Humanitarian workers welcomed the donation — but said the world needs more doses and they were hoping they would arrive sooner. Grand statements and promises need to be met with detailed plans backed by timelines for delivery, starting immediately.

“If we have a stop-start supply or if we store all the supply up for the end of the year, it’s very hard for low-income countries with quite fragile health care systems to then really be able to get those vaccines off the tarmac and into the arms of health care workers,” said Lily Caprani, the head of COVID-19 vaccine advocacy at UNICEF. “We want a coordinated, time-bound, ambitious commitment starting from June and charting the course for the rest of the year.”

The global COVAX alliance has faced a slow start to its vaccination campaign, as richer nations have locked up billions of doses through contracts directly with drug manufacturers. The alliance has distributed just 81 million doses globally and parts of the world, particularly in Africa, remain vaccine deserts.

So far, among the G-7 countries, only France has begun shipping vaccines through COVAX, according one of the initiative’s leaders, vaccine alliance Gavi. France has delivered a total of 628,800 doses to seven African countries — with Senegal, a former French colony, receiving about 30% of that total.

Biden said Thursday that some of the 80 million doses the U.S. had previously committed to donating — some of them outside of COVAX — were already shipping. The U.S. has also given a few million vaccines to neighbors Mexico and Canada.

White House officials said the ramped-up distribution program fits a theme Biden plans to hit frequently during his week in Europe: that Western democracies, and not authoritarian states, can deliver the most good for the world.

China and Russia have shared their domestically produced vaccines with some needy countries, often with hidden strings attached. U.S. national security adviser Jake Sullivan said Biden “does want to show — rallying the rest of the world’s democracies — that democracies are the countries that can best deliver solutions for people everywhere.”

—Zeke Miller, Aamer Madhani And Jill Lawless, The Associated Press

RELATED: Canada’s opinions of U.S. markedly higher with Biden in White House, poll suggests

CoronavirusG7 Summitvaccines

Just Posted

The Quesnel Seniors’ Centre is one of many locations people can vote in the Quesnel Rec Centre pool referendum. (Cassidy Dankochik Photo - Quesnel Cariboo Observer)
Where to vote in the Quesnel pool referendum

Voters will head to the polls across the region today

The Rocky Mountaineer train will return to Quesnel on July 11. (Lindsay Chung - Observer File Photo)
Rocky Mountaineer will return to Quesnel on July 11

The passenger train will make its first stop in Quesnel since October of 2019

Category three fires are prohibited across the entire region covered by the Cariboo Fire Centre, including the Quesnel Forest District. (Cariboo Fire Centre)
Quesnel Forest District under stricter fire controls

Category 3 open fires have been prohibited by the Cariboo Fire Centre

Central Mountain Air will be landing in Quesnel five times a week starting on June 28. (Black Press File Photo)
Quesnel council waives passenger landing fees for Central Mountain Air

The first flight since April of 2020 will land in Quesnel on June 28

Jayden Emslie (right) with her grandmother. (Photo submitted)
A small pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins pass by close to shore in Campbell River June 16, 2021. Still capture from video courtesy of Kimberly Hart
VIDEO: Dolphin sunset captured from Vancouver Island shore

Spectacular setting for view of travelling pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins

Central Okanagan Grade 12 grads are set to get $500 each after a more than $1 million donation from a Kelowna couple. (File photo)
B.C. couple donating $500 to every Grade 12 student in the Okanagan

Anonymous donors identified as Kelowna entrepreneurs Lance and Tammy Torgerson

Rita Coolidge played the main stage at Vancouver Island Musicfest in 2017. (Black Press file photo)
This year’s Vancouver Island MusicFest to virtually showcase beauty of Comox Valley

Returning July 9 through 11 with more than 25 hours of music performances

British Columbia’s premier says he’s received a second dose of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine. (Twitter/John Horgan)
B.C. premier gets 2nd dose of AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine

John Horgan shared a photo of himself on social media Friday afternoon holding a completed vaccination card

A lotto Max ticket is shown in Toronto on Monday Feb. 26, 2018.THE CANADIAN PRESS
No winning ticket sold for Friday’s $70 million Lotto Max jackpot

The huge jackpot has remained unclaimed for several weeks now

Police are asking for public assistance in locating Anthony Graham who has been charged with the murders of Kamloops brothers Carlo and Erick Fryer. (RCMP photo)
2 charged, suspect at large in killings of B.C. brothers linked to gang activity: RCMP

Kamloops brothers Erick and Carlo Fryer were found deceased in May on a remote Okanagan road

Albert Health Minister Tyler Shandro and Alberta Premier Jason Kenney unveil an opening sign after speaking about the Open for Summer Plan and next steps in the COVID-19 vaccine rollout, in Edmonton, Friday, June 18, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Alberta 1st province in Canada to lift all COVID-19 public health restrictions

70.2% of eligible citizens 12 and older in the province have received a dose of the vaccine

Fraser Health registered nurse Ramn Manan draws a dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine into a syringe at a walk-up vaccination clinic at Bear Creek Park, in Surrey, B.C., on Monday, May 17, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
‘Honour our fathers’ with COVID-19 vaccine protection, B.C. urges

109 new cases Friday, 75 per cent of 12 and up immunized

Most Read