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G7 summit begins with focus on pandemic, climate change

Leaders of the Group of Major Industrialised Nations (G7) are meeting on Friday, June 11, 2021 for a summit that is overshadowed by the Coronavirus pandemic.

G7 leaders
G7 Leaders

On the first day, leaders are due to discuss recovery from the Coronavirus pandemic, focusing on questions such as COVID-19 vaccine donations and financial aid to build vaccine production sites around the world.

The G7 group had pledged to donate one billion vaccine doses to poorer nations by sharing jabs directly and through financial aid, the British government announced.

Leaders were also to come up with a plan to extend vaccine manufacturing.

Ahead of the summit, U.S. President Joe Biden said the U.S. would donate another 500 million vaccine doses to 92 poorer countries and the African Union by June next year.

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Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who is hosting the three-day summit in the coastal village of Carbis Bay, announced that his country would provide 100 million surplus doses, most of them to be distributed through the COVAX vaccine-sharing programme.

The G7 group remained divided over the issue of lifting patent protection for Coronavirus vaccines, as proposed by the U.S. and several other nations.

French President Emmanuel Macron said on Thursday that France and South Africa would present a proposal during the summit on an exemption for a limited period of time and applying to particular places.

The group was also looking to discuss plans to better prepare the world for future outbreaks.

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“Global solutions are needed,’’ according to a draft of a “Carbis Bay Health Declaration’’ seen by dpa.

In the draft, the G7 leaders commit “to strengthen our collective defences to better prevent, detect and respond to, and recover from, future pandemics through effective multilateral action and a strengthened global health system.’’

In the evening, the leaders are scheduled to attend a reception hosted by Queen Elizabeth II and her son, Prince Charles, during which environmental protection and fighting climate change was on the agenda.

It was the leaders’ first in-person meeting in this format in two years, after the G7 leaders only met virtually last year due to the pandemic.

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It was the first major international summit for Biden, which he was attending as part of a one-week Europe trip.

The group will also discuss relationships with Russia and China, with Biden looking to strengthen ties with the other G7 members again to create a united counterweight to the two nations.

The G7 comprises the U.S., Britain, Germany, France, Italy, Japan and Canada. On Saturday, the leaders of Australia, India, South Korea and South Africa were invited as guests as well.

Johnson said he hoped this would make the summit more of a conference of leading democracies.

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