Several G-20 leaders called for an equitable distribution of Covid-19 vaccines and for strengthening the World Health Organization, the agency taking the lead in battling the pandemic and coordinating how to distribute vaccines worldwide.
The Trump administration this summer announced its withdrawal from the WHO and opted out of the agency’s plan to distribute a vaccine known as COVAX.
French President Emmanuel Macron urged international cooperation on providing a vaccine for everyone and building a system that allows the first doses of the vaccine to be directed toward the least developed countries. German Chancellor Angela Merkel called for better funding.
“To defeat the pandemic, every nation needs to have access to and be able to afford the vaccine,” Merkel said at the event. “We need reliable funding, better cooperation, greater independence.”
Russian President Vladimir Putin told leaders that Russia is prepared to distribute its Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine to other countries and is working on a second and third vaccine.
Chinese President Xi Jinping said that China is prepared to ramp up global vaccine development and distribution. China currently has five vaccine candidates undergoing Phase III trials.
Trump, who lost the Nov. 3 election but did not concede, hasn’t attended a White House coronavirus task force meeting in several months and hasn’t answered questions from the press about the pandemic.
The U.S. broke another daily record for new Covid-19 cases on Friday, with more than 195,500 confirmed cases and at least 1,800 deaths, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. The rise in cases is driving a surge in hospitalizations and deaths, with more than 82,100 people currently hospitalized across the country — a higher number than at any point during the pandemic.
— Reuters contributed to this report