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The Africa Confidential Blog

  • 10th June 2021

G7 summit agonises over vaccine equity

Blue Lines

Wealthy governments have been promising to donate surplus Covid vaccine doses to Africa and other developing regions since the start of the year. The fact that very few of those jabs have arrived – only 1% of Africans have received at least one jab – has not stopped Western leaders from congratulating themselves on their generosity.

There is a strong likelihood that this pattern will be repeated at the Group of 7 summit on 11 June hosted by United Kingdom Prime Minister Boris Johnson, with a new series of promised vaccines on an ad hoc basis that will not arrive in Africa until towards the end of the year, after countries such as South Africa and Uganda have been hit by another wave.

As former UK premier Gordon Brown puts it, 'a promise is not a plan'. Nor is it really generosity.

The costs of global vaccination, which Brown estimates at US$50 billion between now and the end of next year, is a fraction of the additional economic output generated. The IMF reckons economies would grow an extra $5 trillion between now and 2025.

After securing an accord on international corporate tax rates on 4 June, the G7 could reinforce its return to cooperation by sharing the costs of a global vaccination campaign. The G7 Club could pay two-thirds while the bigger economies of the G20, such as China, Russia and the Gulf States, could fund the rest. It would be an insurance policy with universal benefits.