Foreign Desk Report
NEW YORK: Former British prime minister Gordon Brown has called on the world’s richest nations to underwrite coronavirus vaccination in poorer countries, highlighting the need to raise some $60 billion over the next two years.
Speaking during the regular briefing by the World Health Organization (WHO), and ahead of next month’s G-7 summit, Brown, who is the United Nations Special Envoy for Global Education, said inaction would only 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.”
As prime minister, Brown hosted the G-20 summit in 2009, where the world’s major economies committed an additional $1.1 trillion to address the fallout from the global financial crisis. He is now on a campaign to galvanize support to demand that the G-7 “deploy its wealth to end the disease”.
More COVID-19 cases were reported in the past two weeks than in the first six months of the pandemic, with India and Brazil accounting for half, WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told journalists in Geneva.
“The G7 countries are the world’s economic and political leaders. They’re 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.
Tedros reported that the landmark global collaboration developing and delivering COVID-19 vaccines to countries worldwide, known as the ACT Accelerator, remains $19 billion underfunded. Up to $45 billion will be needed next year to inoculate most adults. “We face a shared threat that we can only overcome with shared solutions”, he said. “Sharing financial resources, sharing vaccine doses and production capacity, and sharing technology, know-how and waiving intellectual property.”
For Brown, 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.”