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June 15, 2021

G7 summit

 
June 15, 2021

Since the Covid-19 pandemic, G7 leaders have met in person for the first time – at a summit meeting held in Cornwall, UK, from June 11 till June 13. The summit saw some of the richer countries committing to using resources in an effort to ensure that the devastation caused by the novel coronavirus is contained. Since there is a likelihood of similar pandemics breaking out again in the future, one hopes that leaders of powerful countries recognize that only a concerted effort by world leaders can counter such menace. The declaration that the participating leaders issued outlined a series of measures intended to achieve the target of slashing the time needed to develop vaccines to under 100 days.

It must also be stressed that, as pointed out by some charities, the amount needed for full vaccination of all the people in the world is at least 50 billion dollars, while the summit has committed just five billion. The summit also failed to take any action for the removal – or at least some relaxation – in the constraints of intellectual property, as all countries now need a publicly funded and managed network of vaccine manufacturing. The summit also did not agree to end all new fossil fuel projects. With dangerous rises in global temperature there should have been a clear commitment to stop the decline of nature by 2030, failing which dire consequences are in store for humanity. Even more disturbing is the increasing tension between China and the G7 countries as the summit leaders agreed to challenge China’s non-market economic practices and call out Beijing for rights abuses. At the same time, there was no mention of Indian atrocities in Kashmir when Indian PM Modi addressed the summit virtually. The way the Covid-19 pandemic has wreaked havoc with the economic and human potential of the world calls for a detailed plan to prevent any repeat of such devastation.

With over 175 million people infected by the virus, it has claimed over 3.7 million lives, and has threatened the very livelihood and survival of the denizens of the globe, irrespective of their socioeconomic status and racial origin. As the G7 Summit stipulated, if the world manages to reduce to under 100 days the time taken to develop and licence vaccines, the diagnostics and treatments of the infected people will also get a major boost. Coupled with this is the need to reinforce global surveillance networks and genomic sequencing capacity for which the Summit has allocated amounts, and also to strengthen the World Health Organization (WHO). The Summit talked in clear terms about incorporating recommendations from a report by a group of international experts drawn from across governments, industries, and scientific institutions. The announcement to donate over a billion vaccines to poorer countries is another positive, though one can easily argue that this is a case of way too little.