G20 to back 'equitable' access to coronavirus vaccine

Darnell Taylor
November 22, 2020

President Kagame commended the G20 for mobilising resources for the Access to Covid-19 Tools Accelerator, in particular, the COVAX facility - a global mechanism to ensure quick procurement and distribution of vaccines once available.

The Group of 20 summit began on Saturday with appeals by the world's most powerful leaders to collectively chart a way forward as the coronavirus pandemic overshadows this year's gathering, transforming it from in-person meetings to a virtual gathering of speeches and declarations.

The two-day gathering that began Saturday comes as global efforts intensify for a large-scale rollout of coronavirus vaccines after a breakthrough in trials, and as European Union and other leaders call for G20 nations to plug a $4.5-billion funding shortfall. President-elect Joe Biden has not said whether he will join it.

While the global economy is recovering from the depths of the crisis, momentum is slowing in countries with resurgent infection rates and the pandemic is likely to leave deep scars, the International Monetary Fund said in a report for the summit.

China, where the pandemic originated a year ago, also offered to cooperate on vaccines.

At the G20 Summit in Riyadh, Saudi Arabi, President Xi Jinping of China said that his country was prepared to intensify cooperation on a global effort to develop vaccines for COVID-19. China has three vaccines of its own in development, undergoing Phase III trials, Reuters reported.

Chinese President Xi Jinping said on Saturday that China is ready to step up global COVID-19 vaccine cooperation, and called for better worldwide coordination on policies to facilitate movement of people.

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The event has revived discussion about the kingdom's human rights abuses, on an uptick under the leadership of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who has rolled out a rapid succession of reforms while also forcefully stamping out dissent in the kingdom.

While quick research and sharing of scientific information for the development of COVID-19 tests and vaccines has happened, individual G-20 countries have mostly focused on securing their own vaccine supplies.

Erdogan and the Saudi king discussed bilateral relations during the phone call and exchanged views on the G20 summit, the Turkish presidency said late on Friday.

But the group faces mounting pressure to help stave off possible credit defaults among developing nations, as their debt soars in the economic catastrophe stoked by the virus.

Last week, its finance ministers declared a "common framework" for an extended debt restructuring plan for virus-ravaged countries, but campaigners say the measure is insufficient. Guterres, however, called on the G-20 to extend debt repayments through the end of 2021 and expand the scope to middle-income countries in need.

But after a weekend of "digital diplomacy", their closing communique lacked details on numerous issues dominating the talks.

Saudi Arabia's human rights record has cast a shadow on the gathering, as campaigners and families of jailed activists launch vigorous drives to highlight the issue.

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