- Prof. Sarah Gilbert and Prof. Neil Ferguson are among those backing calls for countries attending G7 to pay for two thirds of doses
- Former Prime Minister Gordon Brown welcomes intervention from top pandemic experts
London, 19 May 2021 – Twenty of the world’s top medical experts have joined calls for rich countries attending the G7 summit to pay for two thirds of the doses needed to vaccinate the world against COVID-19.
Their move was welcomed by former UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown, who called on the G7 to listen to the medical advice that insists that the race between virus and vaccine has to be won in the next few months if we are to save thousands of lives.
In an open letter to Prime Minister Boris Johnson and G7 leaders published today by the BMJ, thirteen prominent epidemiologists including Professor Sarah Gilbert, inventor of the AstraZeneca vaccine, say around $66 billion is needed to supply the world with vaccines. They call for countries attending the G7 summit to agree to cover around $43bn over two years.
Also among the signatories are Professor Andrew Pollard, head of the Oxford University vaccine group and Professor Neil Ferguson of Imperial College London, who advised the Government at the beginning of the pandemic and is regarded as one of the architects of the UK’s response.
On the same day, these calls were backed by seven highly respected figures in global health, including Mark Dybul who headed the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria and is now the Co-Director, Georgetown University Center for Global Health Practice and Impact.
Gordon Brown emphasised the importance of these interventions: "The G7 has now been told by Dr Sarah Gilbert and other leading medical scientists - some of whom invented, pioneered and developed the vaccines and treatments - that they want their life saving discoveries to be available to everyone.
“Last month Norway and South Africa wrote to G20 leaders, asking them to contribute their share of the $66 billion needed to vaccinate the world. And the pressure is building. Germany, Canada, Norway and Saudi Arabia have done so and the European Union Council has endorsed this fair share financing.
“By the time G7 leaders meet in June, I want the whole world to be telling them that they must not squander this unique opportunity to save lives.”
In the open letter, some of the world’s leading epidemiologists stress that “the phrase ‘none of us are safe until all of us are safe’ is not a political slogan but a scientific fact”. They say the upcoming G7 summit in the UK must deliver “a financial plan of action for achieving the vaccine equity needed to save lives, restore hope, and overcome the pandemic”.
They point out that “as wealthy countries move towards coverage rates of 70 per cent and above, coverage across sub-Saharan Africa remains less than 1 per cent. The vaccine gap between rich and poor countries is growing by the day.”
The G7 is also well placed to mobilise vital extra funds to support vaccine delivery and essential services through investment in health systems, they add.
The letter forms part of a growing movement including a petition which has secured 1.2 million signatures worldwide, and a coalition of campaigners representing 12 million people in the UK that is calling on leaders to ensure everyone who needs the vaccine can get it without a global ‘jabs race’ that leaves poorer countries behind.
Kirsty McNeill, Executive Director of Policy, Advocacy and Campaigns at the children’s charity Save the Children, which is part of this Crack the Crises coalition, said:
“These leading epidemiologists must not be ignored. Their expertise has helped deliver vaccines in record time, saving lives and livelihoods across the world. As the UK rolls them out at pace, they are saying the science is clear. We will all be at risk and never crack the Covid crisis until G7 leaders back a truly global vaccination campaign.
“What’s more, the British public agree that solidarity and self-interest are one and the same. Recent polling showed two thirds say the UK should start sharing its Covid vaccines with poorer countries now, to help stop vaccine-resistant strains from developing.”
Save the Children is joined in the coalition by organisations including ActionAid, Global Citizen, National Union of Students, and WaterAid. Members are united to demand concerted action on COVID, climate change and help for struggling communities at home and abroad.
Notes to editors
- The G7 summit will take place in Cornwall from 11-13 June. As well as the G7 countries, comprised of the UK, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the USA and the EU, leaders from Australia, South Korea and India have been invited to attend.
- Save the Children is joined in the coalition by organisations including ActionAid, Global Citizen, National Union of Students, and WaterAid. Members are united to demand concerted action on COVID, climate change and help for struggling communities at home and abroad. More info at crackthecrises.org
Signatories to the open letter published in the BMJ:
- Professor Francesco Checchi OBE, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine
- Professor John Edmunds OBE, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and member of the government’s scientific advisory group, Sage.
- Professor Neil Ferguson, Director, Jameel Institute and MRC Centre for Global Infectious Disease Analysis
- Professor Azra Ghani, Chair in Infectious Disease Epidemiology, Imperial College London
- Professor Sarah Gilbert, University of Oxford and Vaccitech co-founder
- Professor Adrian V. S. Hill, Director, The Jenner Institute at the University of Oxford
- Professor Peter Hotez, President of the Sabin Vaccine Institute and Dean, National School of Tropical Medicine
- Professor Joy Lawn, Director MARCH Centre (Maternal Adolescent Reproductive & Child Health)
- Professor Marc Lipsitch, Director, Harvard’s Center for Communicable Disease Dynamics. Member of the US Covid Commission Planning Group in the US.
- Jesem Douglas Yamall Orellana, Instituto Leônidas e Maria Deane - ILMD/FIOCRUZ/MS
- Professor Andrew Pollard, Director of the Oxford University Vaccine Group and chief investigator at the Oxford vaccine trial
- Professor Steven Riley, Professor of Infectious Disease Dynamics, Imperial College London
- Professor Polly Roy OBE, Professor of Virology, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine
Supporting the calls:
- Deus Bazira, DrPH, MPH, MBA, Associate Professor of Medicine and Co-Director, Georgetown University Center for Global Health Practice and Impact
- Judith S. Currier, MD, MSc, UCLA Professor of Medicine and Chief, Division of Infectious Diseases, Michael and Sue Steinberg Chair in Global AIDS Research
- The Hon. Mark Dybul, MD, Professor of Medicine and Co-Director, Georgetown University Center for Global Health Practice and Impact. Former US Global AIDS Coordinator and Executive Director, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.
- Julio Frenk, MD, PhD, President, the University of Miami
- Eric P. Goosby, MD, Professor of Medicine, University of California, San Francisco School of Medicine. Former US Global AIDS Coordinator
- Diane Havlir, MD, Professor of Medicine, University of California, San Francisco
- Michael S. Saag, MDy, Director, Center for AIDS Research, University of Alabama at Birmingham
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