G7 billion vaccine pledge not enough to stop Covid from spreading ‘like wildfire’, says UN

French President Emmanuel Macron elbow bumps with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on the first day of the G7 leaders summit in Carbis Bay – Neil Hall /EPA

Boris Johnson’s proposal to provide a billion coronavirus vaccines to the developing world will be insufficient without a program to double global production and ensure equitable distribution, the United Nations Secretary General has said.

In an apparent endorsement of President Joe Biden’s proposal to waive intellectual property rights on vaccines, Antonio Guterres called for a “sharing of knowledge” and technologies in a bid to stamp out the Covid-19 virus worldwide.

“It is obvious that we must share the knowledge, but also all the aspects necessary to allow the production of vaccines. That means mobilising all the capacities that exist or might exist with transfer of technologies,” he said.

“The waiver is an element but it is not the only one.”

“I understand that companies must be supported. I am asking for fairness in the way things are measured and so that companies are making reasonable profits that they are supposed to make, but that at the same time capacity is doubled,” he said.

“The countries that can produce vaccines today or can be able to do so should come together in an emergency task force able to deal with the pharmaceutical industry in order to define a successful outcome.

“If not, the risk is there will still be large areas in the developing world where the virus will spread like wildfire.”

Mr Guterres also warned the world is on the “verge of the abyss” amid a catastrophic rise in global temperatures and warned the COP 26 climate summit in Glasgow in November could fail if G7 members failed to fulfil promises to support climate action by poorer countries.

Developed countries promised to provide $100 billion in funding to developing countries at the Paris climate accord of 2016.

“All the G7 members have committed to net zero by the 2050 and have presented plans to drastically reduce emissions,” Mr Guterres said.

“But we have not heard net zero commitments from many emerging economies. And when you talk to the leaders of emerging economicies they say ok, under the Paris agreement there is meant to be support.

“The developed countries have not yet delivered on the promises made in Paris.

“They must clarify how this will materialise, and it must happen in 2021. This is a very mportant element to have a successful COP 26.”