G20 to back 'equitable' access to coronavirus vaccine

Cornelia Mascio
Novembre 22, 2020

Saudi Arabia's King Salman opened the Group of 20 summit as the coronavirus pandemic overshadows this year's gathering of heads of state that is being held in the virtual format.

G20 nations have contributed more than $21 billion to combat the pandemic, which has infected 56 million people globally and left 1.3 million dead, and injected $11 trillion to "safeguard" the virus-battered world economy, organisers said. The economic crisis arising as a effect of the virus has dominated the agenda at the two-day summit.

The COVID-19 pandemic is the biggest challenge the world is facing since World War-II and is an important turning point in the history of humanity, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said at the G20 summit on Saturday, as he offered India's IT prowess for the efficient functioning of the grouping.

In a statement, the White House said Trump highlighted to his fellow world leaders at the G-20 summit that the USA had "marshaled every resource at its disposal to respond to the crisis".

The European Union has called for $4.5 billion by the end of the year from the G20 to pay for COVID-19 fighting tools for poorer countries.

He also called for stronger worldwide policy coordination to establish travel "fast tracks" that would facilitate orderly global movement.

World leaders, including US President Donald Trump who is refusing to concede a bitter election, popped up in multiple windows across a flickering screen, in a high-stakes webinar held amid the raging pandemic.

"We need to show global solidarity", she said.

China, where the pandemic originated a year ago, also offered to cooperate on vaccines. He will also encourage other leaders to step up and support the Covax initiative, to ensure developing countries are not frozen out of the race for a vaccine.

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.

The pandemic dampened Saudi Arabia's hopes of using the event as a grand coming-out party on the world stage.

Many of his fellow G20 leaders have already congratulated his rival, President-elect Joe Biden.

But G20 leaders face mounting pressure to help stave off possible credit defaults across developing nations.

"Family Photo" for annual G20 Summit World Leaders is projected onto Salwa Palace in At-Turaif, one of Saudi Arabia's UNESCO World Heritage sites, in Diriyah, Saudi Arabia, November 20, 2020.

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.

Especially vulnerable are poor and highly indebted countries in the developing world, which are "on the precipice of financial ruin and escalating poverty, hunger and untold suffering", United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said on Friday, reported Reuters.

European members of the G-20 are likely to push for more.

Some Western officials have indicated human rights will not be raised at the summit, saying they prefer to use bilateral forums to discuss the issue with Riyadh.

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