UK prime minister Boris Johnson will host a virtual meeting of the leaders of the group of seven countries on Friday(19) ahead of the G7 summit in June.
The virtual meeting will be part of the UK’s G7 presidency this year and the first gathering of G7 leaders since April 2020.
The leaders will discuss how leading democracies can work together to ensure equitable distribution of coronavirus vaccines around the world and prevent future pandemics, the Downing Street said.
Indian prime minister Narendra Modi is expected to attend the G7 Summit in Cornwall in June after India was invited as a guest country by the UK, alongside South Korea and Australia.
The G7 countries include the UK, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the US.
“The solutions to the challenges we face – from the colossal mission to get vaccines to every single country, to the fight to reverse the damage done to our ecosystems and lead a sustainable recovery from coronavirus – lie in the discussions we have with our friends and partners around the world,” said Johnson.
“Quantum leaps in science have given us the vaccines we need to end this pandemic for good. Now world governments have a responsibility to work together to put those vaccines to the best possible use. I hope 2021 will be remembered as the year humanity worked together like never before to defeat a common foe.”
The meeting will also be US president Joe Biden’s first major multilateral engagement, to call for leaders to work together on a ‘joined-up global approach’ to pandemics that brings an end to the nationalist and divisive politics that marred the initial response to coronavirus.
A statement from Downing Street said.“International pandemic preparedness will be a major priority for the UK’s G7 presidency and the prime minister will work with fellow G7 leaders to implement his five-point plan to prevent future pandemics announced at the UN General Assembly last year.”
The five-point plan includes a worldwide network of zoonotic research hubs, developing global manufacturing capacity for treatments and vaccines, the design of a global pandemic early warning system, the agreement of global protocols for a future health emergency and the reduction of trade barriers.
Last month, the US announced it would join the COVAX initiative, becoming the final G7 country to do so. It will provide developing countries with 1.3 billion doses of the vaccine this year and the UK is providing £548 million to the scheme.
During February, the UK also holds the presidency of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC), which rotates between members every month.
On February 23, Johnson will chair a virtual meeting of the UNSC on the link between climate change and conflict, marking the first time a UK prime minister chairing a Security Council session since 1992.
Downing Street has said that discussions at the meeting will inform crucial action ahead of the UK-hosted COP26 Summit scheduled for Glasgow in November.