RIYADH: Leaders of the world’s 20 biggest economies will pledge to pay for a fair distribution of Covid-19 vaccines, drugs and tests around the world so that poorer countries are not left out, and to extend debt relief to them, a draft G20 communiqué showed.
“We will spare no effort to ensure their affordable and equitable access for all people, consistent with members’ commitments to incentivise innovation,” the leaders said in the draft G20 statement, seen by Reuters.
Saudi Arabia’s King Salman said in his opening remarks at the G20 Riyadh Summit yesterday that they must work towards affordable and equitable access to vaccines and other tools to combat the pandemic.
“Although we are optimistic about the progress made in developing vaccines, therapeutics and diagnostics tools for Covid-19, we must work to create the conditions for affordable and equitable access to these tools for all peoples,” he said.
The leaders are holding a two-day virtual meeting via video-conference due to the pandemic, under the chairmanship of Saudi Arabia, which holds the rotating presidency of the G20 until the end of November.
The Covid-19 pandemic, which will throw the global economy into a deep recession this year before an economic rebound expected in 2021, is at the top of the agenda.
The leaders are concerned that the pandemic might further deepen global divisions between the rich and the poor.
An official group photograph of the leaders at the G20 Riyadh Summit
“We need to avoid at all costs a scenario of a two-speed world where only the richer can protect themselves against the virus and restart normal lives,” French President Emmanuel Macron told the summit.
To do that, the European Union urged G20 leaders to quickly put more money into a global project for vaccines, tests and therapeutics called Access to Covid-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator.
“At the G20 Summit I called for $4.5 billion to be invested in ACT Accelerator by the end of 2020, for procurement & delivery of Covid-19 tests, treatments and vaccines everywhere,” European Commission head Ursula von der Leyen said on Twitter.
“We need to show global solidarity,” she said.
Russia’s President Vladimir Putin offered to provide Russia’s Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine to other countries and said Moscow was also preparing a second and third vaccine.
China, where the pandemic originated a year ago, also offered to co-operate on vaccines. China has five home-grown candidates for a vaccine undergoing the last phase of trials.
“China is willing to strengthen co-operation with other countries in the research and development, production, and distribution of vaccines,” Xi told the G20 Summit.
To prepare for future outbreaks, the EU will propose a treaty on pandemics. “An international treaty would help us respond more quickly and in a more co-ordinated manner,” the chairman of EU leaders Charles Michel will tell the G20.
While the global economy is recovering from the depths of the crisis earlier this year, momentum is slowing in countries with resurging infection rates, the recovery is uneven and the pandemic is likely to leave deep scars, the International Monetary Fund said in a report for the G20 summit.
Especially vulnerable are poor and highly indebted countries, which are “on the precipice of financial ruin and escalating poverty, hunger and untold suffering”, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said.
To address this, the G20 will endorse a plan to extend a debt servicing moratorium for developing countries by six months to mid-2021.