Boris Johnson has rejected claims of “moral failure” by the G7 in providing more COVID vaccines for poorer nations – as he dismissed suggestions a Brexit row had overshadowed the world leaders’ Cornwall summit.
At the end of three days of talks at the seaside resort of Carbis Bay, the heads of the world’s leading democracies committed to providing one billion doses of coronavirus jabs over the next year.
The prime minister described the pledge as one of the “triumphs” of the G7 summit.
However, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has challenged G7 leaders to help vaccinate at least 70% of the world’s population by the time they meet again next year – a target the WHO has said will need 11 billion doses.
Former prime minister Gordon Brown told Sky News the G7 summit will go down as a “missed opportunity” as he accused leaders of “unforgivable moral failure” over providing vaccines to the rest of the world.
But, speaking at a news conference on Sunday at the end of the Cornwall summit, Mr Johnson pushed back against Mr Brown’s assessment.
“I really must reject that,” he said. “This is another billion (doses) made up of a massive contribution by the United States, other friends – the UK putting in another 100 million.
“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”.
And the prime minister said a target to vaccinate the world by the end of 2022 will be done “very largely thanks to the efforts of the countries who have come here today”.
As well as the G7 leaders’ discussions on COVID recovery, future pandemic preparedness and climate change at the summit, lingering Brexit tensions have also been on display in Cornwall between the UK and EU leaders.
But Mr Johnson denied that a continuing UK-EU row over post-Brexit arrangements for Northern Ireland had left a “sour taste” at the Cornwall gathering.
“I can tell you that the vast, vast majority of the conversations that we have had over the last three or four days have been about other subjects and there has been a fantastic degree of harmony between the leaders of our countries,” he said.
Following the conclusion of the G7 summit, a group of leading charities accused world leaders of having “fallen disappointingly short”.
Organisations including UNICEF UK, Crisis Action, and Action for Global Health said in a joint statement: “”The success of this year’s G7 summit should be judged by whether leaders have put their money and resources where their mouths are.
“Without 10 billion vaccines, the removal of patents and investment in healthcare systems pledges to inoculate the world by the end of next year ring hollow.”
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