New pledges at global summit target COVID vaccine gap
At the G20 Global Health Summit in Italy today, world leaders and drug companies announced major commitments to boost the supply of COVID vaccine for low- and middle-income countries, but stopped short of endorsing a full waiver of vaccine patent rights.
So far, about 1.59 billion vaccine doses have been given worldwide, about 84% of it deployed in higher-income countries, according to the New York Times. The summit today, hosted by the European Commission and Italy, comes as the vaccine gap becomes more acute, with supplies expected from India delayed due to the country’s catastrophic surge.
Countries agree on principles for ending pandemic
At today’s summit, the G20 countries agreed on common principles for ending the pandemic, with the approval of the Rome Declaration. Ursula von der Leyen, European Commission president, said on Twitter, “This means no export bans, keeping global supply chains open, and working to extend capacity everywhere. If we live up to these principles, the world will be better prepared for a pandemic.”
The group supported voluntary licensing and technology transfers, but didn’t reach a consensus on a pharmaceutical waiver of vaccine patent rights, according to Reuters. The step was first suggested by South Africa and India and supported by the United States, but the World Trade Organization would need to negotiate the waiver, which could take months.
Among major announcements to boost supply, the European Commission pledged to secure 1.3 billion vaccine doses for low- and middle-income countries. The total includes 1 billion from the 2 billion doses announced by Pfizer-BioNTech today, 200 million from Johnson & Johnson, and 100 million from Moderna. European officials also announced that that they would invest €