LONDON – Group of Seven leaders began arriving at a luxury seaside resort in England on Thursday for a Group of Seven summit where some of the world's richest nations will pledge to share coronavirus vaccines with the poorest, as part of efforts to help a pandemic-scarred world recover.
Since the G-7 last met two years ago, COVID-19 has killed more than 3.7 million people and decimated economies with lockdowns and layoffs.
As British Prime Minister Boris Johnson hosts U.S. President Joe Biden and the leaders of France, Germany, Italy, Japan and Canada to the cliff-ringed Carbis Bay beach resort in southwest England, pandemic recovery — and, crucially, getting vaccines to billions who lack them — is at the top of the agenda.
“This is the moment for the world’s greatest and most technologically advanced democracies to shoulder their responsibilities and to vaccinate the world, because no one can be properly protected until everyone has been protected,” Johnson said in an article published Thursday, a day before the summit's official start.
Johnson, who has faced criticism for months over Britain’s refusal to send any vaccine doses abroad, pledged to donate 100 million jabs in the next year, the first of them by September, and said the G-7 as a whole is expected to give 1 billion doses. Half of that came in a pledge from U.S. President Joe Biden.
Biden, making his first foreign trip as president, announced that the U.S. will buy 500 million more doses of the Pfizer vaccine to share with poorer countries over the next year.
"America will be the arsenal of vaccines in our fight against COVID-19," Biden said.
The summit is seen as a major test for Johnson, a divisive leader at home and abroad whose two years in office have been dominated by the consecutive crises of Brexit and the pandemic.