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G7 nations pledge billion vaccines, call for probe into COVID-19 origins

The G7 nations on Sunday committed to delivering 1 billion COVID-19 vaccines to the world's poorest nations and called for a second investigation into the origins of the virus. Photo by Andrew Parsons/No 10 Downing Street/UPI
The G7 nations on Sunday committed to delivering 1 billion COVID-19 vaccines to the world's poorest nations and called for a second investigation into the origins of the virus. Photo by Andrew Parsons/No 10 Downing Street/UPI | License Photo

June 13 (UPI) -- The leaders of the Group of Seven nations released a communique Sunday committing to deliver 1 billion COVID-19 vaccines worldwide and calling for a new investigation into the origins of the virus.

The G7 nations wrote that they will provide 1 billion COVID-19 vaccine doses throughout the next year and work with the private sector, G20 and other nations to increase the contribution in the coming months.

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"Recognizing that ending the pandemic in 2022 will require vaccinating at least 60% of the global population, we will intensify our action to save lives," the nations wrote. "Our international priority is to accelerate the rollout of safe and effective, accessible and affordable vaccines for the poorest countries, noting the role of extensive immunization as a global public good."

Ahead of the summit, President Joe Biden pledged that the United States will donate 500 million Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine doses globally, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the country would donate 100 million and French President Emmanuel Macron announced France would double its commitments from 30 million doses to 60 million. The other G7 nations are Canada, Germany, Italy and Japan.

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Johnson, after the summit, said the countries were rejecting "nationalistic approaches" in committing to the broad distribution of the vaccine.

"What we as the G7 need to do is to demonstrate the benefits of democracy and freedom and human rights to the rest of the world," he said. "We can achieve that through medical history. We can do that by working together to stop the devastation that the coronavirus has produced from ever occurring again."

COVID-19 infections worldwide dropped 12% weekly on Sunday while deaths rose 6% as India's new cases dropped 31% in the past week following a recent surge.

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Biden said "it might take slightly longer" than 2022 to end the pandemic worldwide but said the G7 might be in a position to provide another billion vaccines then through the year 2023.

"We're going to stay at it until we're able to provide for ... the needs of the whole world," he said.

In the communique, the G7 nations also called for a "timely, transparent, expert-led and science-based" World Health Organization investigation into the origins of COVID-19 after China refused to participate in an initial report.

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After the summit, Biden said it was critical for China to be more transparent so the world can be sure of the origin of the virus.

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"We haven't had access to the laboratories to determine whether or not ... this was a consequence from the marketplace of a bat interfacing with animals in an environment that caused this COVID-19 or whether it was an experiment gone awry in a laboratory," he said.

In March, the United States, European Union and 13 other nations issued a call for a second investigation, after the WHO's original report stated that the origins of the virus that emerged in China in December 2019 likely came from animal farms in Southeast Asia.

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