G20 leaders adopt plan to overcome COVID-19 crisis
Today, leaders of the G20 committed to several actions to speed up the end of the COVID-19 crisis and better prepare for future pandemics, at a summit co-hosted by European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi, chair of the G20.
The G20 highlighted the importance of increased and diversified manufacturing and recognised the role of intellectual property in ensuring equity, both through voluntary licensing and knowledge transfer, as well as in the context of the flexibilities provided by the TRIPS agreement. In that regard, the EU plans to facilitate the implementation of those flexibilities, particularly the use of compulsory licenses including for exports to all countries that lack manufacturing capacity.
The EU will submit a proposal in the WTO focusing on:
- clarifying and facilitating the use of compulsory licences in crisis times;
- supporting the expansion of production;
- trade facilitation and limiting export restrictions.
During the summit it was also mentioned the need to address the funding gap of the ACT-Accelerator, a global collaboration to accelerate development, production, and equitable access to COVID-19 tests, treatments, and vaccines, and launched by the WHO, the Commission, France and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. It was agreed to extend its mandate to the end of 2022. The leaders further agreed on the need for early warning information, surveillance and trigger systems. These will cover new viruses, but also variants. They will enable countries to detect and act much faster, stopping outbreaks before they become pandemics.
‘Team Europe' presented to the summit concrete contributions to cover immediate needs and to build capacity in the medium term. The Commission has worked with industrial partners, which are manufacturing vaccines in Europe, to make available vaccine doses for low and middle-income countries, rapidly.
BioNTech/Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson, and Moderna have altogether pledged 1.3 billion doses of vaccines, to be delivered to low-income countries at no profit, and to middle-income countries at lower prices by the end of 2021. They also committed more than 1 billion doses for 2022. Team Europe aims at donating 100 million doses of vaccines to low and middle-income countries until the end of the year, in particular through COVAX.
Moreover, Team Europe will invest to equip Africa to produce vaccines itself, since it imports today 99% of its vaccines. Team Europe has launched an initiative to boost manufacturing capacity in Africa and access to vaccines, medicines and health technologies. The initiative, backed by €1 billion funding from the EU budget and, for instance, the European Investment Bank, will cover investments in infrastructure and production capacity, as well as in training and skills, supply chains management, regulatory framework.
Image © European Council, 2021
21 June 2021