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.