By Michael Holden
LONDON, June 5 (Reuters) – British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Saturday called on the leaders of the rich countries of the Group of Seven (G7) to pledge to vaccinate the whole world against COVID-19 by the end of 2022 during of their meeting in Brittany next week.
Johnson will host the first in-person summit in nearly two years of G7 leaders – which follows a meeting of the group’s finance ministers that ended earlier today – and said he would seek to s commit to achieving the global immunization goal.
“Vaccinating the world by the end of next year would be the greatest achievement in the history of medicine,” Johnson said in a statement. “I call on my fellow G7 leaders to join us in ending this terrible pandemic and I promise that we will never let the devastation caused by the coronavirus happen again.”
Leaders from Germany, France, United States, Italy, Japan, European Union and Canada will join Johnson for the three-day summit in Cornwall, southwestern England. ‘England, which starts on Friday. It will be US President Joe Biden’s first overseas trip since taking office in January.
While richer countries have vaccinated large numbers of their populations, many poorer countries have not had the same access to vaccines. And health experts have warned that unless more COVID vaccines are given, the virus will continue to spread and mutate.
US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen in London for the finance ministers’ meeting said there is an urgent need for richer countries to promote vaccinations in poorer countries that cannot afford buy them.
She also reiterated the United States’ position that patent rights should be removed for vaccines, and said it was doing everything possible to address supply chain issues that were preventing a build-up of vaccines in d other parts of the world.
Britain has ordered more than 500 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine for its population of 67 million and says it will donate any injections it does not need.
(Edited by David Holmes)