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Britain to push for faster vaccines at G-7 leaders meeting

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LONDON (AP) – Some of the world’s richest countries pledge to share coronavirus vaccines with poorer ones, but details on when and how many remain scarce as leaders of the Group of Seven economic powers hold their first meeting of 2021 Friday.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who is assuming the presidency of the G-7 this year, meets virtually with the leaders of France, Germany, Italy, Canada, Japan and the United States. The leaders, joined by senior officials from the European Union, will discuss international challenges, chief among which is the pandemic that has killed nearly 2.5 million people worldwide.

Johnson, whose country has seen nearly 120,000 coronavirus deaths, will praise the speed at which vaccines have been developed against COVID-19 in less than a year, and announce an effort to reduce the time needed to create new ones to 100 days.

The UK government has said Johnson will ask UK chief science adviser Patrick Vallance to work with the World Health Organization and others to “speed up the process of developing vaccines, treatments and tests. for common pathogens ”.

“The development of viable coronavirus vaccines offers the tantalizing prospect of a return to normalcy, but we must not rest on our laurels,” Johnson said in comments released by his office at 10 Downing St.

Rich countries have purchased hundreds of millions of doses of vaccine, leaving little for the developing world. Western leaders promise to share, but so far details are scarce.

Johnson will pledge on Friday to donate “the majority of all future surplus vaccines” to the UN-backed COVAX effort to immunize the world’s most vulnerable people, the UK government said ahead of the summit. He has not given a specific time or amount that the UK is considering giving.

Other G-7 leaders have also broadly supported vaccine sharing. French President Emmanuel Macron said Europe and the United States should allocate up to 5% of their current stocks of COVID-19 vaccines to the poorest countries “very quickly, so people on the ground see it. happen”.

In an interview with the Financial Times, Macron suggested that Russia and China are engaged in a “vaccine war of influence” by offering doses of their own products to some African countries.

US G-7 allies are keen to impress President Joe Biden in his first major multilateral engagement since taking office. They hope that the United States’ re-engagement with the world after the “America First” years under Donald Trump will mean a more coordinated response on issues such as COVID-19 and climate change.

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