G20 Summit: 7 COVID-19 deaths every minute, rich countries urged to share soon-expiring vaccines

By the end of October, US, EU, Britain and Canada would have a stock of 240 million unused vaccines

By DTE Staff
Published: Friday 29 October 2021
G20: With 7 dying of COVID-19 every minute, eveloped countries urged to share soon expiring vaccine doses

As world leaders flock to Rome for the G20 summit, the “unethical” vaccine hoarding at the cost of millions of lives in poor and developing countries haunts them.

Long after Rome made transition from an empire to a republic — making the plebeians the effective rulers, snatching it from the wealthy patricians — it would see a similar contemporary global replay. This time, it will be replayed in a democratic landscape and amidst a pandemic. The ‘plebeians’ here are the ones fighting for a life-saving vaccine against the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) against the powerful ‘patricians’ — the G20 countries.

The heads of these wealthy countries and their invited guests will meet for two days from October 30, 2021 to discuss post-pandemic recovery, climate change and a global minimum corporate tax deal. But, as the leaders gather, they face another ethical challenge that is also a health emergency in context of the pandemic.

On October 29, over a hundred former prime ministers, presidents and leaders issued an appeal to the G20 countries to share their surplus vaccines for use in poor and developing countries. They addressed the appeal to Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi.

The letter said that by the end of October, the United States, the European Union, Britain and Canada would have a stock of 240 million unused vaccines. Most of these doses will expire in a few weeks.

“It would be unethical for all these vaccines to be wasted when globally there are 10,000 deaths from COVID-19 every day, many of which could be averted,” the letter said.

According to this appeal, 40 per cent of the world population could be vaccinated by the end of the year if these surplus vaccines are equally distributed among countries. The World Health Organization (WHO) has set a target of covering 40 per cent of the population by the end of 2021.

Currently, even though more than six billion COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered worldwide, only 2 per cent of people in low-income countries have received it.

The world leaders, former prime ministers and presidents as well as policy influencers estimate that ensuring equitable distribution of the surplus vaccines will make some 1.1 billion doses available for poor and developing countries by February 2022. This will also fulfil another WHO target: Vaccinating 70 per cent of all adults globally by next spring.

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