10 June 2021, The Tablet

Chance for real change


The G7 summit

 

Carbis Bay, a seaside village near St Ives, Cornwall, will this weekend host the leaders of most of the world’s wealthiest countries, the G7 group, amid increasing signs that Planet Earth is in trouble. The Covid pandemic is being beaten back in the seven countries represented, where public vaccination programmes are in full flow, but in some other parts of the world immeasurable disasters are unfolding, with the poorest populations often suffering worst. The direct impact of disease is matched by devastation to local economies and the increased threat of new variants spreading – all making the UK government’s decision to cut its international aid programme a crime crying out to heaven.

A high priority has to be given by the G7 leaders not only to the exporting of vaccine supplies from the rich to the poor, but also to any measures necessary to disperse vaccine manufacturing facilities throughout the world. Crucial to that will be a global initiative to relax patent rules, so that western pharmaceutical companies would cease to control this desperate global need. Market forces should not be sacrosanct at a time of emergency. This is not just a matter of charity but also of justice and prudence.

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