New alliance of multilateral institutions warns vaccine inequity could curb economic recovery
The worldwide economic recovery will be held back massively unless world leaders do more to end the growing divergence of vaccine distribution, a new alliance of the world multilateral institutions has said.
The International Monetary Fund director, Kristalina Georgieva, said the G7 agreement in Cornwall to distribute 870m surplus vaccines this year was not enough, and urged the broader G20 group to show more ambition when she spoke alongside the heads of the World Bank, the World Health Organization and the World Trade Organization (WTO).
The four-strong alliance is an unprecedented step by the world’s largest multilateral bodies and reflects its growing feeling that elected political leaders, focused on domestic political audiences, are not grasping the scale of what is needed to grip the international pandemic under long-term control.
Pascal Lamy, former director of the WTO and chair of a joint conference organised by the nonprofit Paris Peace Forum and the One Campaign, which aims to end extreme poverty and preventable disease, said: “The 870m does really look meagre.” He added that he hoped the G20 finance ministers meeting in Venice and the national leaders due to meet in Rome later this year would be more ambitious.
Georgieva urged the G20 to embrace a target of vaccinating 40% of the world population by the end of this year, and 60% next year.
“Africa is burning and Latin America’s needs are very severe,” she told the Paris conference. “We have to produce more vaccines in more places … As long as this pandemic continues to roam around with new mutations coming, as long as we have this fertile ground for new mutations, then it will ricochet back into the vaccinated world.”
She said predicted strong growth in wealthy countries such as the US was “good news” but developing countries were being held back by slow vaccination rates. “That is a danger for the coherence of growth and it is also a danger for global stability and security,” she said.‘We are a petri dish’: world watches UK’s race between vaccine and virusRead more
Georgieva warned of a serious risk US growth levels will be so high this year and next year that the US Treasury will start to raise interest rates, plunging debt-ridden African countries further into financial crisis as servicing their dollar-denominated debts becomes more expensive.Advertisement
Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, the WTO director, said: “Unless we do something quickly and dramatically, this inequity will continue to lead to a K-shaped recovery. We need to move really fast to move this gap … Those countries that have vaccinated 50% or 60% of their population need to send their surplus vaccines to the world’s poorest countries.”
She said she hoped by July she would have a good outcome on the issue of vaccine intellectual property transfer, adding that member states were negotiating on a detailed text. “There are just not enough vaccines to go round, so we need to manufacture more.”
But she added the highly complex vaccine product supply chains made it harder to produce vaccines in Africa. Johnson & Johnson, she said, had told her that their vaccine contains 180 components manufactured at 67 sites in 12 countries. Pfizer’s vaccines contain 280 components produced at 86 sites in 19 countries.