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June 9, 2021, 5:47 a.m.
Here's today's foreign policy: The pressure continues to grow G-7 for a global vaccine plan, US President Joe Biden arrives in the UK, and Albania vote on the impeachment of its president.
The G-7's Vaccine Challenge
As G-7 leaders prepare for the two-day summit in England on Friday, pressure is mounting on countries to do more to bridge the blatant gap between poor and rich COVID-19 vaccines.
World Health Organization (WHO) chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus described the emergence of a "two-pronged pandemic" at a press conference Monday, pointing out that high-income countries had given 44 percent of the world's vaccine doses, while low-income countries had 0 .4 percent of it spent. “The most frustrating thing about this statistic is that it doesn't’It hasn't changed in months, ”said Tedros.
Evidence of the gap is the way life is quickly normalizing in rich countries that have bilateral agreements to secure vaccines from poorer countries. With the exception of Japan, whose vaccination program began much later, the G-7 countries averaged 76 doses of vaccine per 100 population. South American countries have given approximately 31 doses per 100 people, while African countries have given less than three doses per 100 people.
Aggressive vaccination programs have enabled these countries to boost their economies and resume tourism. Last week seven countries in the European Union started using a vaccination record system. In the United States, 41 states out of 50 have resumed normal business operations. Japan, which is a laggard when it comes to vaccines compared to the rest of the G-7, is still planning to host the Tokyo Olympics in July.
The vaccine divide comes with a price tag. The World Bank revised its growth forecast for 2021 to 5.6 percent – the strongest recovery from a recession since 1940 – driven by US stimulus spending and Chinese growth. Still, the bank warns that emerging markets with delayed access to vaccines will experience slower growth.
G-7 printing. Vaccine distribution plans so far have lagged far behind what is needed to end the pandemic quickly. COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access (COVAX), the WHO-backed initiative founded with the goal of delivering 2 billion doses of vaccine to poorer countries by the end of 2021, has lagged far behind, due to poor vaccine supplies and shortages is hindered by resources. To make up for the initiative's deficit, the United Nations has children& # 39; s fund urged the G-7 to commit between June and August to share 20 percent of their vaccine supplies – about 150 million doses.
EU barriers. Proposals to accelerate access to vaccines, such as a plan put forward by India and South Africa to surrender patent rights for vaccines and other COVID-19-related tools at the World Trade Organization, have so far been thwarted by richer nations. Although the United States now supports a limited version of the Indian and South African proposal, the European Union does not. The European Parliament will vote today on whether to support the waiver, despite the fact that the panel rejected the proposal back in April.
Band Aid. Although China is the world leader in vaccine exports, the United States is the largest vaccine donor with 80 million doses administered. The G-7 member France is in second place with 30 million promised cans. These relatively low numbers, with billions of people not yet vaccinated, have left some health professionals unimpressed. Speaking to the New York Times in May, global health activist Gregg Gonsalves said US donations – without a broader strategy to improve vaccine access – are "like putting a band-aid on a machete wound."
"Vaccinating the few while neglecting the many is not an effective game plan to eradicate the virus," wrote Bogolo Kenewendo on Aug.
What we are following today
Biden arrives in the UK US President Joe Biden arrives in England today to begin a week-long European tour, including the G7 summit in Cornwall, England; NATO and EU summit in Brussels; and ends with a bilateral meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Biden begins his journey today with a meeting with U.S. Air Force personnel stationed at a Royal Air Force base about 80 miles north of London before meeting British Prime Minister Boris Johnson one-on-one on Thursday.
Voices of Mongolia. The Mongols are electing a new president today, only their sixth democratically elected head of state. Khurelsukh Ukhnaa, who resigned as prime minister during protests last year, is the favorite to win, a victory that would cement the power of the Mongolian People's Party (MPP), which already controls the country's parliament. It is the first election since a constitutional amendment that limits presidents to a six-year term, a move that made incumbent President Battulga Khaltmaa unsuitable for today's election.
Albania's impeachment. Albania& # 39; s Parliament will vote today on whether Albanian President Ilir Meta should be charged on allegations of violating his constitutional obligations by assisting the country's opposition in the parliamentary elections on April 25. The ruling Socialist Party, which has 74 of 140 votes in the Albanian parliament, needs the support of other parties to achieve the two-thirds majority required to force Meta's removal. If the parliament votes in favor of impeachment, Albania's constitutional court decides whether the decision is upheld.
Saudi Syria connections. Saudi Arabia and Syria are on the verge of normalizing diplomatic relations, according to a report by Al Jazeera. The two countries were at odds over Saudi Arabia's support for rebel groups aiming to overthrow Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in the Syrian civil war – and generally over Syria's close ties with Iran. The rapprochement comes when Iran and Saudi Arabia have started normalization talks themselves, supported by Iraq.
Investigate the origins of COVID-19. The European Union has decided to help the United States in its efforts to conduct a new study into the origins of the coronavirus in China as intelligence agencies continue to question whether the virus spread through a laboratory leak in Wuhan, Bloomberg News reported Tuesday.
A March report by the World Health Organization pointed to animals as the most likely origin of the virus, but the investigation, dubbed a "propaganda victory" for Chinese authorities, based on data from Chinese scientists, did not satisfy skeptics. In a draft statement to the US-EU summit on June 15, countries are calling for "progress in a transparent, evidence-based, expert-led, WHO-convened Phase 2 study on the origins of COVID-19 that is free" . from disturbances. "
Friday's G-7 summit in Cornwall, south-west England sparked controversy before it even started, fueled by the allegedly poor quality of the venue. Adam Raphael, editor of The Good Hotel Guide, has condemned the choice of the Carbis Bay Hotel and Estate, which will host many of the G-7 leaders, as "a cruel and unusual punishment," suggesting a nearby hotel would make more sense would have been a meeting point. Reader reviews of the hotel, wrote Raphael, “do not inspire confidence. It has never had an entry in the guide and probably never will be. "
While the accommodations may not be to everyone's taste, they are still an improvement over the accommodations that U.S. intelligence will endure. As the popular vacation spot of world leaders and British vacationers alike is fully booked, agents will instead spend the night in mobile homes at an air force base about 20 miles from the summit.