Jean-Jacques Cornish

An equitable spread of COVID vaccine dominates the meeting of the world’s richest countries

The equitable distribution of COVID vaccine has seized the gathering in London of Foreign ministers from the world’s richest countries by the scruff of the neck.

The practical issues of fighting the pandemic is best summed up in the assertion that no-one if safe until everyone is safe.

The moral issues, equally plain, have been more problematic as rich nations grab more of the vaccine than they need to save their faltering economies.

The foreign ministers of Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan  and the United States had a packed agenda preparing for next month’s G7 summit to be hosted in Britain.

In pre-meeting briefings they listed Russia, Myanmar and Iran ahead of COVID a.

Then members of the Indian delegation – invited as observers along with Australia, the Association of South East Asian Nations, the European Union, South Africa and South Korea- reported cases of COVID and were forced into self-isolation.

India and Brazil are responsible for the overwhelming majority of COVID cases as the pandemic goes into its third wave.

The media covering the deliberations at Lancaster House in London’s West End have eyes for nothing else.

Former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown set the moral tone calling on the G7 to fund the global push for COVID vaccine.

Speaking as the UN Envoy for Global Education he called on the richest nations raise $60 billion over two years, saying inaction now would lead to greater global division.

“By our failure to extend vaccination more rapidly to every country, we are choosing who lives and who dies”, he warned. 

“And I say the world is already too deeply divided between rich and poor to allow a new unbridgeable divide to become entrenched between the world’s vaccinated who live, and the under-vaccinated who are at risk of dying.” 

Brown asserted that mass global vaccination is not an act of charity, but “the best insurance policy for the world”.  Though costing billions now, the result will be “trillions of additional economic output, made possible when trade resumes in a COVID-free world.” 

Brown will be remembered as the British premier who hosted the G20 summit in 2009, where the world’s major economies committed an additional $1.1 trillion to address the fallout from the global financial crisis,  

World Health Organization  chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus thanked Brown for his call to the world’s economic and political leaders. 

“The G7 are also home to many of the world’s vaccine producers. We will only solve the vaccine crisis with the leaders of these countries”, he said.

For those of a more cynical or dubious bent, a poll by the People’s Vaccine Alliance shows that70 percent of G7 citizens believe their governments should ensured pharmaceutical companies share the formulas and technology of their vaccines.

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Jean-Jacques Cornish is a journalist and broadcaster who has been involved in the media all his adult life.

Starting as a reporter on his hometown newspaper, he moved briefly to then Rhodesia before returning to South Africa to become a parliamentary correspondent with the South African Press Association. He was sent to London as Sapa’s London editor and also served as special correspondent to the United Nations. He joined the then Argus group in London as political correspondent.

Returning to South Africa after 12 years abroad, he was assistant editor on the Pretoria News for a decade before becoming editor of the Star and SA Times for five years.

Since 1999 he’s been an independent journalist writing and broadcasting – mainly about Africa – for Talk Radio 702 and 567 Cape
Talk, Radio France International, PressTV, Radio Live New Zealand, Business Day, Mail & Guardian, the BBC, Agence France Press,
Business in Africa, Leadership, India Today, the South African Institute for International Affairs and the Institute for Security Studies.

He has hosted current affairs talk shows on Talk Radio 702 and 567 Cape Talk. He appears as an African affairs pundit on SABC Africa and CNBC Africa.
He lectured in contemporary studies to journalism students at the Tshwane University of Technology and the University of Pretoria.

He speaks on African affairs to corporate and other audiences.
He has been officially invited as a journalist to more than 30 countries. He was the winner of the 2007 SADC award for radio journalism.

He’s been a member of the EISA team observing elections in Somaliland, Democratic Republic of Congo, Madagascar, Zimbabwe, Egypt and Tunsiai.

In October 2009 he headed a group of 39 African journalists to the 60th anniversary celebrations of the Peoples’ Republic of China.

In January 2010 he joined a rescue and paramedical team to earthquake struck Haiti.

He is immediate past president of the Alliance Francaise of Pretoria.

Jean-Jacques is a director of Giant Media. The company was given access to Nelson Mandela in his retirement years until 2009.
He is co-producer of the hour-long documentary Mandela at 90 that was broadcast on BBC in January 2009.