G20 health ministers agree vaccine distribution needs to be fairer

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Rome, Sept. 6 (BNA):  The health ministers of the world's 20 leading economies have agreed to work towards more equity in the distribution of Covid-19 vaccines at a meeting in Rome on the next steps in the effort to contain the coronavirus.

 

The conditions are in place to agree to what G20 ministers have dubbed the Rome Pact, Italy's health minister, Roberto Speranza, said.

 

One key commitment of the pact is a fairer distribution of vaccines beyond wealthy nations based on the shared understanding that vaccination is a right of all and not the privilege of a few, Speranza said, dpa reports.

 

Germany is planning to make 100 million vaccine doses against the coronavirus available for the international inoculation campaign before the end of the year, Health Minister Jens Spahn announced on the sidelines of the meeting.

 

"That is the same amount as we have vaccinated in our own country so far," Spahn said, adding that the contribution will help towards the goal of having at least 40 per cent of the world population vaccinated before 2022.

 

The pandemic is only over when it's over worldwide, Spahn said, warning of the danger that variants pose with the lack of a global response.

 

This is one of the last G20 ministerial meetings before the G20 leaders meet at the end of October in Rome.

 

At the two-day meeting, participants are also discussing how future pandemics can be prevented or how countries can be better prepared, and ways to make scientific knowledge more accessible around the world.

 

The goal is "a strong message of cooperation, solidarity and justice, in the firm belief that nobody should be left behind," the meeting's organizers said.

 

Russia called on the G20 countries to mutually recognize the digital Covid-19 vaccination certificates. It is important to develop common approaches to cross-border travel of vaccinated people, Health Minister Mikhail Murashko said.

 

"To this end, it is important to consider mutual recognition of the vaccination." According to earlier information, Russia is already holding such talks with the EU, but so far without result.

 

Both Spahn and Speranza stressed how important vaccination now becomes ahead of the pandemic development in the coming months.

 

"Now in September we will decide, in Germany and Europe, how safely we get through autumn and winter," Spahn said. To get through the next few months safely, we need "another 5 million vaccinations and more in Germany."

 

Speranza brought up the spectre of reinstating restrictions should sluggish vaccination campaigns not pick up steam again.

 

In response to the virus, which still very much exists, "either we reinvigorate the vaccination campaign, or we are forced to imagine that at a certain point, measures of the past will become necessary," Speranza was cited by the Corriere della Sera newspaper as saying.

 

In the lead-up to the meeting, Speranza had hosted experts for talks on mental health. "There is no health and well-being without complete mental health," he said. "In the difficult months of the pandemic, this has become even more important."