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Global heads urge Pope to press G20 to send unused vaccines to poorest countries

Sean Elias/PA Media

By Alan Jones, PA Industrial Correspondent

Global political leaders have written to the Pope seeking his help for a “miracle of life-saving vaccines” for the world’s poorest and most vulnerable.

More than 150 world leaders – including former UK prime minister Gordon Brown, UN general secretary Ban Ki-Moon, former Brazilian president Fernando Cardoso, ex-New Zealand premier Helen Clark, and former prime ninister of Japan Yasuo Fukado – have come together to press the need for urgent global co-operation.

They are calling on the Pope to intercede this week ahead of the G20 summit which begins in Rome on Friday under the chairmanship of Italian premier Mario Draghi.

The group says the summit could be the last chance for world leaders to agree a detailed plan to send unused vaccines from the global north to the global south and keep vaccination targets on track.

Only 5% of Africa is fully vaccinated.

A World Health Organisation (WHO) plan to redistribute an over-supply of unused vaccines to the 92 vaccine-poor nations, if agreed by G20 members, could deliver an extra 600 million doses to Africa and low-income countries as soon as December, the political leaders believe.

They are asking Pope Francis to exert his influence to ensure the summit uses its “historic opportunity” to end the vaccine inequality they say is plaguing the world.

The letter says: “We hope and pray that the G20 will agree that the poorest and most vulnerable can finally have access to the miracle of life-saving vaccines.”

The Pope is being asked to bring his moral weight to mounting pressure on the G20 to agree a detailed plan to redistribute available vaccines and switch delivery contracts from countries that have over-ordered to Covax, the international bulk-purchasing agency.

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