British Prime Minister Boris Johnson says the Group of Seven is expected to donate one billion Covid-19 vaccine doses to poorer countries during its summit starting on Friday, in a drive to help inoculate the world by the end of next year.
The group is expected to announce the pledge during its three-day summit in the English seaside resort of Carbis Bay in Cornwall in southwest England, Reuters reports.
Just hours after US President Joe Biden vowed to donate 500 million Pfizer shots, Johnson said Britain would give at least 100 million surplus vaccines to the poorest nations.
Britain has given a first dose to 77% of its adult population and the US 64%.
“As a result of the success of the UK’s vaccine programme we are now in a position to share some of our surplus doses with those who need them,” Johnson will say on Friday, according to excerpts of the announcement released by his office.
“In doing so we will take a massive step towards beating this pandemic for good.”
Some campaign groups are already condemning the plan as a drop in the ocean.
With a global population nearing eight billion and most people needing two doses, if not booster shots to tackle variants as well, campaigners said the commitments marked a start, but world leaders needed to go much further, and much faster.
Charity group Oxfam estimates that nearly four billion people will depend on Covax for vaccines, the programme that distributes Covid-19 shots to low and middle-income countries.
“The G7’s aim to provide one billion doses should be seen as an absolute minimum, and the timeframe needs to speed up,” said Lis Wallace at anti-poverty campaign group ONE.
“We’re in a race with this virus and the longer it’s in the lead the greater the risk of new, more dangerous variants undermining global progress.”
Charities have also said that logistical support will be needed to help administer large numbers of vaccines in poorer countries.
Of the 100 million British shots, 80 million will go to the Covax programme led by the World Health Organization and the rest will be shared bilaterally with countries in need.
Johnson echoed Biden in calling on his fellow leaders to make similar pledges and for pharmaceutical companies to adopt the Oxford-AstraZeneca financial model of providing vaccines at cost for the duration of the pandemic.
The British doses will be drawn from the stock it has already procured for its domestic programme, and will come from suppliers Oxford-AstraZeneca, Pfizer-BioNTech, Janssen, Moderna and others.