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G20: Leaders commit global effort to 'affordable and equitable' vaccine access

The G20 leaders closed the 2020 summit in Saudi Arabia by pledging to undertake a global effort to ensure "affordable and equitable access" to a COVID-19 vaccine for all people. Photo courtesy G20 summit
The G20 leaders closed the 2020 summit in Saudi Arabia by pledging to undertake a global effort to ensure "affordable and equitable access" to a COVID-19 vaccine for all people. Photo courtesy G20 summit

Nov. 22 (UPI) -- World leaders committed to a global effort to combat the COVID-19 pandemic as they closed the virtual G20 Summit on Sunday.

The two-day conference ended with a final communique declaring that "coordinated global action, solidarity and multilateral cooperation are more necessary today than ever" to overcome global challenges, while pledging to take such action to ensure widespread access to COVID-19 vaccines.

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"We will spare no effort to ensure their affordable and equitable access for all people, consistent with members' commitments to incentivize innovation," the closing statement read.

The leaders also stressed the importance of advancing "global pandemic preparedness, prevention, detection and response" through international bodies such as the World Health Organization.

"We emphasize the important mandate of the United Nations' system and agencies, primarily the WHO, while considering the ongoing evaluations, its stated commitment to transparency and the need to strengthen its overall effectiveness, in coordinating and supporting the global response to the pandemic and the central efforts of Member States," they wrote.

Mohammed al Jdaan, Saudi Arabia's finance minister highlighted the group's support for the WHO in a news conference following the conclusion of the summit.

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"We have seen very clear signs but also actions by the G20 supporting multilateralism," he said.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Saturday praised the approach, saying "if we stand together worldwide, we can control and overcome the virus and its consequences."

The United States sent formal notice to the United States in July that it plans to withdraw from the WHO as President Donald Trump accused the agency of enabling China to cover up the origins of the novel coronavirus.

President-elect Joe Biden has said he would halt the process upon taking office.

Trump addressed the summit in a session on the environment titled "Safeguarding the Planet" during which he called his record protecting the environment "historic" while panning the 2015 Paris climate accord, which he as also withdrawn from.

"The Paris accord was not designed to save the environment," said Trump. "It was designed to kill the American economy."

The G20's communique declared climate change, as well as natural disasters and extreme weather events as "the most pressing challenges of our time."

"As we recover from the pandemic, we are committed to safeguarding our planet and building a more environmentally sustainable and inclusive future for all people," they said.

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