World leaders brought pledges to share vaccine doses to the opening of the G7 summit in Cornwall, England, where British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the coronavirus pandemic should not be allowed to leave a “lasting scar” on the world.
The wealthy nations’ leaders were all smiles and unity as Mr Johnson greeted them on the freshly raked sand of Carbis Bay, but they jostled over who was doing the most to help the world’s poorer nations fight COVID-19.
Recovery from the pandemic is set to dominate their discussions, and members of the wealthy democracies club committed to sharing at least 1 billion vaccine shots with struggling countries.
That includes a pledge from US President Joe Biden to share 500 million doses, and a promise from Mr Johnson for another 100 million shots.
Host Britain said the G7 would also announce a package of measures aimed at reducing the chances of another pandemic.
The UK government said the grandly titled “Carbis Bay Declaration” would aim for a 100-day goal to develop vaccines, treatments and diagnostics for future disease and to bolster surveillance for new illnesses.
The group will also pledge to strengthen the World Health Organization, which former US president Donald Trump pulled out of and Mr. Biden rejoined.
Mr. Johnson said the goal of the measures was “to make sure that never again will we be caught unawares”.
Opening three days of talks in Cornwall, in south-west England, Mr. Johnson warned that world leaders must not repeat errors made over the past eighteen months — or those made in the recovery from the 2008 global financial crisis.
“It is vital that we don’t repeat the mistake of the last great crisis, the last great economic recession in 2008, when the recovery was not uniform across all parts of society,” he said after leaders posed for a formal “family photo” by the sea.
“And I think what’s gone wrong with this pandemic, and what risks being a lasting scar, is that I think the inequalities may be entrenched.”
The leaders of the G7 — which includes the UK, United States, Canada, France, Germany, Italy and Japan — hope the meeting at the resort will also energise the global economy.