ROME – From the introductory moments Top of the group 20 Leaders of the world’s largest economies wanted to send a strong message on Saturday about ending the coronavirus pandemic: during an unconventional group photo, they were joined on the podium by doctors in white robes and the first mediators of the Italian Red Cross.
In his words at the beginning of the meeting – the group’s first personal meeting since the outbreak of the pandemic – Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi emphasized the strong disparity in access to vaccines between richer and poorer countries.
“Sam is not an option,” said Mr Draghi, whose country hosts the summit. Now, he added, the world can “finally look to the future with great – or with some – optimism.”
But as leaders gathered to discuss plans to protect against future pandemics, health experts and activists expressed concern that the world’s richest nations are still not doing enough to help people in poor countries survive the present.
Advisers said it was President Biden who promised the U.S. would do “arsenal of vaccines, ”Would not announce concrete plans to reduce the gap between rich and poor countries in terms of vaccination rates. A senior administration official said Mr Biden met with a group of leaders early in the morning and pushed them support debt relief and enable more emergency financing to reach poor countries whose economies have been affected by the pandemic.
While rich countries offer people third doses of the vaccine and are increasingly vaccinating children, poor countries have given four doses per 100 people, according to the World Health Organization.
Biden said in June that the U.S. would buy 500 million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine for poorer countries. It followed in September with the announcement of an additional 500 million doses of Pfizer, along with a promise of an additional $ 750 million for vaccine distribution, about half of which through a nonprofit organization involved in global vaccinations.
Only about 300 million these doses are expected to be shipped this year, a number that experts say does not reach the amount needed for meaningful protection against the virus.
But the president’s advisers said he came to the top concentrated on a number of problems, including repairing global supply chains, encouraging investment to curb climate change, and meeting with leaders of France, Britain and Germany to discuss ways to return to the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran, which The Trump administration has fallen.
Prior to the meeting, Biden suggested to reporters that talks to relaunch the agreement were “planned to continue.” But in a hurry released joint statement, the group seemed to be holding back the president’s claim.
The statement said leaders “welcome President Biden’s clearly demonstrated commitment to the United States to return to full compliance” with the agreement and “remain in full compliance as long as Iran does so.”
On Saturday, Mr. Biden and other world leaders supported a a groundbreaking global agreement which seeks to prevent large corporations from shifting profits and jobs across borders to avoid taxes – a victory for a president whose administration has worked hard to get the business across the finish line.
Leaders are expected to formally support the agreement in a statement to be released on Sunday, a management official said.
But health experts and influential advocates, including Pope Francis, called on Mr Biden during the trip to stay focused on filling the vaccine gap for poor nations, who are particularly vulnerable to the virus and its variants.
While rich countries offer people third doses of the vaccine and increasingly vaccinate children, poor countries have given four doses per 100 people, according to the World Health Organization.
Jake Sullivan, the president’s national security adviser, told reporters for Air Force One on his way to Rome that “the main goal of the Covid-19 effort is not actually to travel through the G20.” He said that a virtual top yes Mr. Biden convened in September set “more ambitious targets” for countries to commit to sharing vaccine doses.
Although Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken is expected to host a meeting of dozens of countries and NGOs this year to secure vaccine exchange commitments, Mr Sullivan said the Group 20’s focus is on the future.
“You really have the failure of the leadership of developed countries after Covid,” said Célia Belin, a visiting foreign policy associate at the Center for the U.S. and Europe at the Brookings Institution. “It will have consequences.”
In fact, offering vaccine doses to developing countries is more than an altruistic gesture by rich countries. The more the virus continues to circulate around the world, the more likely it is to continue to produce deadly versions, making it harder to end a pandemic and making it both vulnerable and rich and poor.
Since arriving in Rome, Mr. Biden has already heard a personal call to do more: Med meeting at the Vatican on Friday, Pope Francis encouraged the president to address the issue, a senior official later said.
Head of the World Health Organization dr. In an open letter to Group 20, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus called on the leaders of the world’s largest economies to “help curb the pandemic by expanding access to vaccines and other tools for people and places where they are least.”
When the summit began, a mix of protesters also appeared on it – laid-off factory workers, climate activists, anti-globalization activists, trade unions, feminist groups, communists and some vaccine skeptics.
“There will be a lot of us,” said Gino Orsini, a representative of the Si Cobas union, one of the organizers of the demonstrations scheduled for Saturday’s meeting. The group is protesting against what it says is the exploitation of workers by the international elite.
This year is the 20th anniversary The summit of Group 8, hosted by Italy in the northern city of Genoa, was marked by riots. It is also a moment of tension between the authorities and opponents of the Italian government’s demands for coronavirus vaccination, which has led to violent clashes.
“The level of attention is highest,” said Giovanni Borrelli, a local government official, adding that 5,500 additional police officers were deployed this weekend.
Emma Bubola contributed reporting.