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The Open Society Foundations Call on G20 to Mobilize $50 Billion to Vaccinate the World

NEW YORK—Ahead of the G20 Health Ministers’ Meeting on September 5 to 6, the Open Society Foundations call on G20 countries to mobilize and deploy at least $50 billion to vaccinate at least 40 percent of the population of all lower- and middle-income countries against COVID-19 this year. They should aim to vaccinate a minimum of 60 percent by mid-2022.

This call to action falls in line with a $50 billion roadmap to end the COVID-19 pandemic and drive a fast recovery unveiled in June by the leaders of the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank Group, the World Health Organization, and the World Trade Organization. Governments were urged to fund the plan to meet an urgent global need to increase manufacturing, supply, trade, and delivery to accelerate the equitable distribution of the tools to diagnose and treat COVID-19. A $25 billion investment in vaccine production by the U.S. government alone would produce enough vaccine for low- and middle-income countries in one year.

The Open Society Foundations also urge G20 countries to commit at least 50 percent of excess vaccine supplies to lower- and middle-income countries by the end of 2022. Of the more than 5.4 billion vaccine doses administered globally, less than 0.4 percent has been administered in low-income countries. This means that a mere 1.8 percent of people living in low-income countries have received at least one dose, compared to almost 50 percent of individuals in high‑income countries. The lack of access to vaccines for low-income countries, primarily in Africa, will prevent the world from meeting even the modest goal of inoculating 10 percent of the population in all countries by September 2021.

“This stark inequality in vaccine distribution is a consequence of the colossal gap between rich and poor, which has allowed wealthy countries to stockpile doses while the global majority goes without,” said Mark Malloch-Brown, president of the Open Society Foundations. “Vaccine inequality is a moral failure that plunges the world into a future in which dangerous variants continue to circulate—and trillions of dollars will be lost from the global economy as a result of this short-sightedness.”

In addition, the Open Society Foundations call on France, Germany, and the United Kingdom to back the efforts of their South African and Indian counterparts to support a temporary, emergency waiver of the World Trade Organization’s Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property rules to enable governments and manufacturers to produce vaccines using existing recipes. “What’s more, the G20 must push biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies with COVID-19-related know-how to share technology with the world under the Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator. It is not time for profiteering, but time to demonstrate our shared humanity, as history will judge us by our current actions,” said Muthoni Wanyeki, Africa director at the Open Society Foundations. “Sharing IP is what global justice—not charity—looks like.”

“As G20 health ministers meet, they must recognize that without greater political leadership and a global strategy to address vaccine access inequities—from control of production to distribution—their domestic efforts to end the pandemic will be in vain,” said Roque Raymundo, Open Society’s acting Asia Pacific regional director. “While ministers gather in Italy, where 61 percent of the population is fully vaccinated against COVID-19, only 11 percent and 13 percent of the populations of G20 counterparts Indonesia and India, respectively, are fully vaccinated.”

To date, the Open Society Foundations have pledged $200 million towards addressing the impacts of COVID-19 around the world. This funding included support to organizations helping those hit hardest by the pandemic, including refugees, domestic and care workers, and others left behind by inadequate government responses.

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