Macron told the Financial Times: “We are allowing the idea to take hold that hundreds of millions of vaccines are being given in rich countries and we are not starting in poor countries. It’s an unprecedented acceleration of global inequality and it’s politically unsustainable too because it is paving the way for a war of influence over vaccines.
“You can see the Chinese strategy and the Russian strategy too.”
He said it was essential that pharmaceutical companies were more open about their technology, and allowed production to take place in Africa. He said that although intellectual property was essential for innovation, if the pharma companies did not do something “a debate would start on excess profits based on scarcity of vaccines”.
He proposed each country in Europe, and elsewhere should set aside a small amount of its vaccines for distribution in Africa. He said the idea had the backing of Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, and would not slow the delivery of vaccines within Europe.
He described the plan as a “test of multilateralism. It’s not about vaccine diplomacy. It’s not a power game, it’s a matter of public health”.
He argued that unless the vaccine was brought under control everywhere, the virus would mutate and return to Europe in new more virulent forms.
Johnson is expected to acknowledge the problem by vowing the UK will share the majority of any future surplus coronavirus vaccines from its supply to Covax, the procurement pool to support developing countries.
He will also be encouraging G7 leaders to increase their funding for Covax in support of equitable access to vaccines. The UK has already pledged £548m, and Germany is expected to increase its funding at the summit. Under the plan, high-income self-financing countries pay to buy vaccines from the facility, thereby funding 92 so-called funded countries.
The collective financing model is designed to provide vaccine manufacturers with volume guarantees before they are licensed.
In practice, many rich countries, eager for quick guaranteed supplies, have used the Covax model.
The UN secretary general, António Guterres, said on Wednesday the distribution of vaccines across the globe was “wildly unfair and uneven”. Just 10 countries have administered 75% of all Covid-19 vaccines. Meanwhile, more than 130 countries have not received a single dose, with those affected by conflict and insecurity at particular risk of being left behind. At this critical moment, vaccine equity is the biggest moral test before the global community.
Canada is thought to have purchased five times as many vaccine doses as it needs.
The G7 meeting will be the first multilateral global forum attended by Joe Biden since his election and promises to rebuild US global alliances shattered by four years of Trump’s “America first” policies.
The summit is likely to expose tensions about how to handle China, with the EU sensitive to the charge it went ahead with an investment deal with Beijing even though it had been asked by the incoming Biden administration to delay and allow time for consultations.
The G7 is made up of the US, the UK, Germany, France, Italy, Canada and Japan.