Prime News, International and National, Riyadh/Dubai/New Delhi, November 23:- Leaders of the world’s most powerful nations wrapped up the Group of 20 summit at Riyadh in Saudi Arabia on Sunday (November 23), vowing to spare no effort to protect lives and ensure affordable access to COVID-19 vaccines for all people.
The two-day summit of heads of state was held virtually due to the coronavirus pandemic, which has killed at least 1.38 million people globally, with the world’s highest death tolls recorded in seven of the G-20 countries. The virus has wiped out hundreds of millions of jobs globally and plunged millions into extreme poverty.
The virus “revealed vulnerabilities in our preparedness and response and underscored our common challenges,” the G-20 said in a final statement that focused heavily on battling the coronavirus, enhancing environmental protections and supporting the global economy. The group vowed “to spare no effort to protect lives.”
The G-20, which includes the United States, India, China, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Japan, Indonesia and others, also stressed the importance of global access to COVID-19 vaccines, drugs and tests.
“We will spare no effort to ensure their affordable and equitable access for all people, consistent with members’ commitments to incentivise innovation,” the statement said.
The G-20 expressed support for efforts like COVAX, an international initiative to distribute COVID-19 vaccines to countries worldwide. The US, however, has declined to join under President Donald Trump.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel told reporters Sunday in Berlin after the virtual summit that Germany had given financial support to the COVAX initiative, but that more money was needed.
The G-20 statement did not directly address an urgent appeal by United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, who said $28 billion in additional investment is needed for mass manufacturing, procurement and delivery of new COVID-19 vaccines around the world, including $4 billion immediately.
There is also concern that countries such as Britain, the US, France and Germany have directly negotiated deals with pharmaceutical companies, meaning that the vast majority of the world’s vaccine supply next year is already reserved.
“Fortunately, there’s now hope for vaccines,” Merkel said, adding that “it is important that not only Europe secures vaccines, as the European Union is doing now, but … that it is important for the entire world” to have access to vaccines.
Saudi Arabia’s King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud rounded out the summit, saying the G-20′s final statement “succeeded in sending out a message of hope and reassurance to our citizens and all people around the world.”
“This is what the world has been expecting from us. This achievement today is a culmination of our joint efforts throughout this challenge-fraught year,” the Saudi monarch said.
Saudi Arabia presided over the G-20 this year and was host of the virtual summit, which was originally intended to be held in-person in Riyadh before the pandemic. During the Saudi king’s speech, small video squares showed the leaders of Germany, France, the U.K., Canada, South Korea, China, India and South Africa watching the final remarks. Trump participated in the summit with prerecorded speeches, but was not in attendance for the virtual summit’s conclusion.
India Prime Minister Narendra Modi has thanked Saudi Arabia for hosting G20 Summit in Riyadh successfully and welcomed Italy as it takes over the G20 presidency in 2021.
It was decided that the G20 Presidency will be held by Indonesia in 2022, India in 2023 and Brazil in 2024.
The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) of India said that at the end of the two day summit, a G20 Leaders’ Declaration was issued which called for coordinated global action, solidarity, and multilateral cooperation to overcome the current challenges and realise opportunities of the 21st century for all by empowering people, safeguarding the planet, and shaping new frontiers. (Inputs: Agencies, NGB)