G20 Rome 2021
World leaders pose for G20 Summit in Rome, Italy Image Credit: AP

Leaders of the world’s 20 biggest economies meeting in Rome have agreed to get more Covid-19 vaccines to poorer nations — a move that if followed through on as a matter of urgency, will make a significant boost in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic.

As things stand now, more than 70 per cent of people globally have yet to receive a single dose of the approved coronavirus vaccines — a situation that not only ensures that the virus will remain as a disrupter to normal activities for the foreseeable future, but also increases the likelihood of more mutant strains developing, with the potential risk that such a strain might indeed undermine the progress made so far through widespread vaccination programmes.

Vaccine inequality, which those who have the money and means to procure billions of doses of vaccine, do so at the expense of poorer nations that generally also have large and economically deprived populations, remains an act of geopolitical immorality that has emerged since these anti-coronavirus vaccines were developed and became widely available.

For months now, the World Health Organisation and other humanitarian and governmental agencies, have been calling for a wider and more equitable distribution of the vaccines.

Yes, nations such as the UAE have stepped forward to sponsor and donate the distribution of tens of millions of doses to poorer and impoverished countries, there are nations who have paid lip service to vaccine equality — promising much but delivering little.

Indeed, the fact that G20 leaders could meet in the first instance in Rome — it was their first in-person gathering in two years — underscores the importance of building immunity through vaccination.

Those leaders did endorse a call to vaccinate 70 per cent of the world’s population against Covid-19 over the next nine months. It is an ambitious target but one that can be reached. More importantly than ‘can’ is the realisation that the target ‘must’ be reached. This pandemic has shown us just how interconnected we are, and that any disruption of those connections undermines our ability to trade, hurting supply chains globally.

The UAE has led the way in showing that it is possible to effectively combat the pandemic by the mass roll-out of vaccines and ensuring that poor nations receive their fair share of these vital vaccines.

Other nations ought to follow suit, and the move by the G20 hopefully shows that both the days of this global pandemic and the immorality of vaccine inequality might be numbered. But only if they do follow through.