US, Britain agree on importance of global Covid-19 vaccine roll-out to end pandemic

LONDON (REUTERS) – British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken agreed on the need for a global roll-out of Covid-19 vaccines to end the coronavirus pandemic, Downing Street said on Tuesday (May 4) after the pair met in London.

“The Prime Minister and Secretary Blinken agreed that the global roll out of vaccines will be key to defeating the coronavirus pandemic,” Mr Johnson’s office said in a statement.

“They underlined the importance of G-7 work in this area, including efforts to increase international manufacturing capability.”

Britain is using its presidency of the Group of Seven (G-7) rich Western nations to also highlight the need to prepare for future pandemics in light of the devastating consequences of the coronavirus crisis.

It last week said it would host a summit next year to raise funds for vaccine research and development to support the international Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (Cepi) seeking to speed up the production of shots for future diseases.

In the United States, politicians have agreed that making vaccines more widely available throughout the world is a necessity to end the pandemic and foster economic recovery.

In remarks to a Council of the Americas conference on Tuesday, US Trade Representative Katherine Tai said a lot of work lies ahead.

“That includes making the vaccine widely available and addressing the global inequity in vaccine access,” she said. “This is not just a public health requirement. Our economic recovery depends on it.”

Ms Tai is due to discuss demands from developing countries for a World Trade Organisation waiver of intellectual property rights on coronavirus vaccines during a WTO General Council meeting later in the week.