Covid-19 pandemic: Merkel ‘worried’ about vaccines for poor countries

Angela Merkel at a lectern

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Germany’s chancellor has raised concerns about the world’s poorest securing access to Covid-19 vaccines.

Angela Merkel was speaking at a G20 summit which saw leaders promise a fair distribution of jabs.

But Mrs Merkel warned progress was slow, saying she would raise the matter with global vaccine alliance GAVI.

“We will now speak with GAVI about when these negotiations will begin because I am somewhat worried that nothing has been done on that yet,” she said.

Her comments come as the US announced that some Americans could be vaccinated as early as 11 December.

The G20 summit of the world’s leading economic powers was hosted by Saudi Arabia. Due to the pandemic meetings were held virtually.

During the conference, the world’s richest nations promised to support poor countries whose economies have been badly damaged by the crisis, but gave few details about what spending would entail.

The virus has infected nearly 60 million people around the world since emerging in China last December, and killed almost 1.4 million.

G20 nations also pledged to address the immediate financing required to support the production and fair distribution of Covid-19 vaccines, as well as treatments for the virus, and tests.

“We will spare no effort to ensure their affordable and equitable access for all people,” the group said in their closing communique.

At a news conference, Saudi Finance Minister Mohammed al-Jadaan emphasised that there was consensus among G20 nations that “if we leave any country behind, we will be behind”.

Rich countries including the UK have already bought up huge numbers of vaccine doses from pharmaceutical firms.

French President Emmanuel Macron called on G20 leaders to “go further and faster” in supporting poorer nations by donating doses, forging industrial partnerships and even sharing intellectual property.

But the European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said “more funding is needed,” to plug a $4.5bn (£3.3bn) gap in the so-called ACT-Accelerator, a mechanism led by the World Health Organization that aims to ensure access to tests, treatments and vaccines for all.

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