G7 leaders’ vaccine pledge is a moral failure

Sky News

The G7 leaders’ vaccine pledge – to fund one billion COVID vaccines falls “far short” of what is needed. It represents a “moral failure”, Britain’s former Prime Minister Gordon Brown says.

His comments were made on Sunday when he was delivering the Methodist Justice Lecture online.

“The G7 summit was one venue where, with the world’s richest countries sitting round the same table, we could have made a decision that could eventually halt Covid in its tracks.

“But, while the G7 have offered one billion vaccines, the world needs 11 billion.”

Brown says he hopes the G7 will agree to the burden-sharing plan Norway and South Africa’s leaders suggested. This would see the richest countries pay two-thirds of the cost of immunising “the poorest citizens of the poorest countries.”

Last weekend’s G7 meeting “should have been the launchpad for an era of international co-operation,” Brown said.

The agreement before the summit by G7 finance ministers to set a global minimum corporate tax rate of 15 percent is inadequate, Brown says.

It’s not to ensure money siphoned off in tax havens was available to pay for health, education, and public services.

Also in the lecture, Brown reiterated his opposition to the UK Government’s cutting of the international-aid budget.

It’s leading to “cuts in the programmes that are so brutal as pulling away the needle from a child whose life could be saved,” he said.

The pandemic has shown it is wrong to view government as the problem, not the solution, Brown said.

“We found that markets need morals; that markets may be free, but they cannot be values-free, and thus that markets have to be servants and not masters; and that what we decide to do together collectively as a national community, and the values that we impose on the market, are far more important than relying on market forces alone.”

Commenting after the lecture, Brown said the G7 leader’s offer of “dose-sharing” – passing on excess to poorer countries is a good thing, but it still won’t touch the sides of what’s needed.

The richest countries could have come up with the money that would have vaccinated the whole world, he said.

Instead, their vaccine pledge of $5 billion is far short of the $50 billion needed to carry out the whole vaccination and protection programme.

“And that’s a huge failure; it’s a moral failure, because here you’re faced with ethical issues about who is going to live and who is going to die. The people who are not going to be vaccinated have got a real risk of dying.

“You’ve got health workers in Africa who are not being vaccinated and won’t be for months. You’ve got the vulnerable in every continent who are not being vaccinated.

“So this [G7] summit is choosing who lives and who dies, and I can’t go away with anything other than saying this is a moral lapse. It’s a failure. A million people are dying every three months, and we could have stopped that far more quickly than we’re going to be able to do.”


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