As the G7 Summit kicked off in Cornwall Friday morning, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced that the UK will share 100 million surplus vaccine doses with the world’s poorest nations, according to Reuters. He said the UK will start by delivering 5 million doses by the end of September.
But multi-platinum recording artist, actress, and producer Selena Gomez said his pledge is not enough and that the UK needs to share more doses faster, urging her followers to join Global Citizen in calling on Johnson to help end the pandemic for everyone, everywhere.
Shortly after the announcement, Gomez took to Twitter to remind the prime minister of his pledge to share a majority of the UK’s surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses with other countries. While the plan to donate 100 million doses over the next 12 months is notable, Gomez tweeted that sharing 5 million doses by September will not be enough to help poorer nations, particularly as campaigners say the world needs to secure at least 1 billion doses for countries in need by that time.
.@BorisJohnson, 5million doses by September is too little too late. You promised Britain would donate ALL its surplus vaccines. Ahead of the #G7 Summit in Cornwall, call on the PM to help meet 1B doses @glblctzn: https://t.co/BP6qmSoC6N— Selena Gomez (@selenagomez) June 11, 2021
"We are disappointed by today’s announcement with the UK only planning to share 5 million doses by September, when the world urgently needs 1 billion doses by this date,” Marie Rumsby, Global Citizen's UK country director, said. “As the G7 host, and a country whose vaccination rate is one of the highest in the world, PM Boris Johnson needs to donate more vaccine doses now, not next year, to ensure equitable vaccine access globally.”
According to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the UK could donate 20% of available COVID-19 vaccines to countries in need and still be on track to vaccinate its adult population by the end of July. The government has yet to share a single dose from its stock of COVID-19 vaccines.
The coronavirus pandemic has taken the lives of more than 3.7 million people, according to the Oxford University-based publication Our World in Data. Around the world, countries have faced devastating second and third waves, spurred by dangerous variants and easing lockdown restrictions. The WHO-approved COVID-19 vaccines have proven to be highly effective at preventing hospitalization and death arising from the coronavirus, making it necessary for government leaders to share COVID-19 vaccines with countries in need immediately.
The G7 countries make up only 13% of the global population but have purchased over a third of the world’s vaccine supply, according to the BBC. This year’s G7 Summit will focus on how member countries — France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the UK, Canada, and the US — can support global COVID-19 recovery efforts and launch climate action.
In response to the global call to action to make vaccines available to poorer countries, Johnson said that he expects G7 leaders to pledge to donate 1 billion doses by the end of 2022. Campaigners say the pledge represents a “drop in the ocean” as they estimate the world will need 11 billion doses to end the pandemic.
“If the best G7 leaders can manage is to donate 1 billion vaccine doses then this summit will have been a failure," Anna Marriot, Oxfam's health policy manager, told Reuters.
Ahead of the G7 Summit, Gomez joined 35 other UNICEF ambassadors and supporters in signing an open letter to G7 world leaders to increase their COVID-19 donations by August and set out a roadmap to scale up donations as supplies increase. She has been an ardent supporter of vaccine sharing since COVID-19 vaccination campaigns began in wealthier nations earlier this year.
In addition to calling on government leaders to donate their surplus COVID-19 vaccines immediately, Gomez hosted Global Citizen’s global broadcast special VAX LIVE: The Concert to Reunite the World in May, which aimed to secure dollars and doses from countries, corporations, and philanthropists to support vaccine equity. Because of these efforts, VAX LIVE ended up helping mobilize $302 million and over 26 million COVID-19 vaccine doses for the world's most vulnerable populations.
The pandemic cannot end for anyone until it ends for everyone, and G7 leaders have the opportunity to make ambitious and specific commitments to vaccine equity this weekend. Their next steps are paramount to ending COVID-19 around the world, and Global Citizens everywhere are watching.