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G-7 Nations Pledge 1B Vaccine Doses    06/11 06:08

   Leaders from the Group of Seven industrialized nations are set to commit at 
their summit to sharing at least 1 billion coronavirus shots with struggling 
countries around the world -- half the doses coming from the U.S. and 100 
million from the U.K.

   CARBIS BAY, England (AP) -- Leaders from the Group of Seven industrialized 
nations are set to commit at their summit to sharing at least 1 billion 
coronavirus shots with struggling countries around the world -- half the doses 
coming from the U.S. and 100 million from the U.K.

   Vaccine sharing commitments from U.S. President Joe Biden and British Prime 
Minister Boris Johnson set the stage for the G-7 meeting in southwest England, 
where leaders will pivot Friday from opening greetings and a "family photo" 
directly into a session on "Building Back Better From COVID-19."

   "We're going to help lead the world out of this pandemic working alongside 
our global partners," Biden said. The G-7 also includes Canada, France, 
Germany, Italy and Japan.

   The leaders hope the meeting in the resort of Carbis Bay will also energize 
the global economy. On Friday, they are set to formally embrace a global 
minimum tax of at least 15% on corporations, following an agreement reached a 
week ago by their finance ministers. The minimum is meant to stop companies 
from using tax havens and other tools to avoid taxes.

   It represents a potential win for the Biden administration, which has 
proposed a global minimum tax as a way to pay for infrastructure projects, in 
addition to creating an alternative that could remove some European countries' 
digital services taxes that largely hit U.S. tech firms.

   For Johnson, the first G-7 summit in two years -- last year's was scuttled 
by the pandemic -- is a chance to set out his vision of a post-Brexit "Global 
Britain" as a midsized country with an outsized role in international 
problem-solving.

   It's also an opportunity to underscore the U.K-U.S. bond, an alliance often 
called the "special relationship" -- but that Johnson said he prefers to call 
the "indestructible relationship."

   The official summit business starts Friday, with the customary formal 
greeting and a socially distanced group photo. Later the leaders will meet 
Queen Elizabeth II and other senior royals at the Eden Project, a lush, domed 
eco-tourism site built in a former quarry.

   The G-7 leaders have faced mounting pressure to outline their global 
vaccine-sharing plans, especially as inequities in supply around the world have 
become more pronounced. In the U.S., there is a large vaccine stockpile and the 
demand for shots has dropped precipitously in recent weeks.

   Biden said the U.S. will donate 500 million COVID-19 vaccine doses and 
previewed a coordinated effort by the advanced economies to make vaccination 
widely and speedily available everywhere. The commitment was on top of 80 
million doses Biden has already pledged to donate by the end of June.

   Johnson, for his part, said the first 5 million U.K. doses would be shared 
in the coming weeks, with the remainder coming over the next year. He said he 
expected the G-7 to commit to 1 billion doses in all.

   "At the G-7 Summit I hope my fellow leaders will make similar pledges so 
that, together, we can vaccinate the world by the end of next year and build 
back better from coronavirus," Johnson said in a statement, referencing a 
slogan that he and Biden have both used.

   French President Emmanuel Macron welcomed the U.S. commitment and said 
Europe should do the same. He said France would share at least 30 million doses 
globally by year's end.

   Biden predicted the U.S. doses and the overall G-7 commitment would 
"supercharge" the global vaccination campaign, adding that the U.S. doses come 
with no strings attached.

   The U.S. commitment is to buy and donate 500 million Pfizer doses for 
distribution through the global COVAX alliance to 92 lower-income countries and 
the African Union, bringing the first steady supply of mRNA vaccine to the 
countries that need it most.

   The Pfizer agreement came together with some urgency in the last four weeks 
at Biden's direction, said a senior White House official, both to meet critical 
needs overseas and to be ready for announcement at the G-7. The official, who 
spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss internal plans, added that the Biden 
administration was to apply the same wartime posture applied to the vaccine 
rollout in the U.S. to its effort to share vaccines globally.

   Biden said the U.S.-manufactured doses will be shipped starting in August, 
with the goal of distributing 200 million by the end of the year. The remaining 
300 million doses would be shipped in the first half of 2022. A price tag for 
the doses was not released, but the U.S. is now set to be COVAX's largest 
vaccine donor in addition to its single largest funder with a $4 billion 
commitment.

   Humanitarian workers welcomed the donation -- but said the world needs more 
doses and they were hoping they would arrive sooner. Grand statements and 
promises need to be met with detailed plans backed by timelines for delivery, 
starting immediately.

   "If we have a stop-start supply or if we store all the supply up for the end 
of the year, it's very hard for low-income countries with quite fragile health 
care systems to then really be able to get those vaccines off the tarmac and 
into the arms of health care workers," said Lily Caprani, the head of COVID-19 
vaccine advocacy at UNICEF. "We want a coordinated, time-bound, ambitious 
commitment starting from June and charting the course for the rest of the year."

   The global COVAX alliance has faced a slow start to its vaccination 
campaign, as richer nations have locked up billions of doses through contracts 
directly with drug manufacturers. The alliance has distributed just 81 million 
doses globally and parts of the world, particularly in Africa, remain vaccine 
deserts.

   Biden's move, officials said, was meant to ensure a substantial amount of 
manufacturing capacity remains open to the wealthy nations. Just last month, 
the European Commission signed an agreement to purchase as many as 1.8 billion 
Pfizer doses in the next two years, a significant share of the company's 
upcoming production -- though the bloc reserved the right to donate some of its 
doses to COVAX.

   White House officials said the ramped-up distribution program fits a theme 
Biden plans to hit frequently during his week in Europe: that Western 
democracies, and not authoritarian states, can deliver the most good for the 
world.

   Biden, in his remarks, harked back to the Detroit-area workers who 80 years 
ago built tanks and planes "that helped defeat the threat of global fascism in 
World War II."

   China and Russia have shared their domestically produced vaccines with some 
needy countries, often with hidden strings attached. U.S. national security 
adviser Jake Sullivan said Biden "does want to show -- rallying the rest of the 
world's democracies -- that democracies are the countries that can best deliver 
solutions for people everywhere."

 
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