British Prime Minister Boris Johnson says the nations of the world must set aside the “beggar my neighbour” attitude that led to squabbling over medicine, protective gear and badly needed COVID-19 vaccines.
Johnson said Thursday that Group of Seven leaders meeting this weekend in Carbis Bay, southwest England, will commit to vaccinating the world by the end of 2022.
The British leader wrote in The Times of London that it was time for wealthy countries to “shoulder their responsibilities and to vaccinate the world, because no one can be properly protected until everyone has been protected.”
But he faces criticism because the U.K. has yet to send any doses abroad and has cut its international aid budget, citing the economic blow of the pandemic.
Johnson said Thursday that Britain would donate “millions” of doses from surplus stocks — though he didn’t say when.
Johnson also noted that the British government helped fund the development at Oxford University of the AstraZeneca vaccine, which accounts for one in three vaccine doses around the world.
President Joe Biden is announcing Thursday that the U.S. will buy hundreds of millions more doses of the Pfizer vaccine to share with poorer countries over the next year.
The new U.S. commitment is to purchase and donate 500 million Pfizer doses for distribution through the global COVAX alliance to 92 lower-income countries and the African Union, bringing the first steady supply of mRNA vaccine to the countries that need it most.
The U.S. is now set to be COVAX’s largest vaccine donor in addition to its single largest funder with a $4 billion US commitment. The global alliance has thus far distributed just 81 million doses, and parts of the world, particularly in Africa, remain vaccine deserts.
Johnson’s call is one of many aspects of the global pandemic expected to be discussed as leaders gather in the U.K. for the summit.
Ahead of the meeting, EU leaders called for an unfettered investigation into the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic, first identified in central China, amid criticism of an initial World Health Organization probe.
Last month, Biden ordered U.S. intelligence officials to “redouble” their efforts to investigate the origins of the coronavirus, including any possibility the trail might lead to a Chinese laboratory.
-From The Associated Press and Reuters, last updated at 7:15 a.m. ET
What’s happening across Canada
As of early Thursday morning, Canada had reported 1,396,798 confirmed cases of COVID-19, with 16,640 considered active. A CBC News tally of deaths stood at 25,843.
More than 27.2 million COVID-19 vaccine doses had been administered so far across the country, according to CBC’s vaccine tracker.
In Atlantic Canada on Wednesday, health officials reported a total of 29 cases of COVID-19 in three provinces, with no new cases in Prince Edward Island.
Health officials in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick each reported 13 new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday, while officials in Newfoundland and Labrador reported three new cases.
In Quebec, meanwhile, health officials reported eight additional deaths and 178 new cases of COVID-19.
Ontario‘s new COVID-19 case numbers on Wednesday stood at 411, with 33 additional deaths. The province, which is moving into its first phase of reopening on Friday, said that hospitalizations stood at 571, with 466 people in intensive care units due to COVID-19.
In Manitoba, which on Wednesday unveiled the details of a slight easing of outdoor restrictions, health officials reported 250 new cases of COVID-19 and four deaths. Two of the deaths occurred in Ontario, where patients from the hard-hit province were transferred as Manitoba struggled with a surge in health-care needs.
Saskatchewan reported one additional death on Wednesday and 57 new cases of COVID-19.
Health officials in Alberta on Wednesday reported five deaths and 313 new cases of COVID-19. The update came as health services opened walk-in clinics for people seeking a first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.
Across the North, Yukon reported two new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday, bringing the number of active cases in the territory to nine. There were no new cases reported in Nunavut or the Northwest Territories.
In British Columbia, health officials on Wednesday reported three deaths and 148 new cases of COVID-19.
-From CBC News and The Canadian Press, last updated at 7 a.m. ET
What’s happening around the world
As of early Thursday morning, Johns Hopkins University’s COVID-19 tracking tool was showing a total of more than 174.4 million reported cases worldwide since the pandemic began. The reported global death toll stood at more than 3.7 million.
In the Asia-Pacific region, an Indian state has raised its COVID-19 death toll sharply after the discovery of thousands of unreported cases, lending weight to suspicion that India’s overall death tally is significantly more than the official figure.
Indian hospitals ran out of beds and life-saving oxygen during a second wave in April and May and people died in parking lots outside hospitals and at their homes. Many of those deaths were not recorded in COVID-19 tallies, doctors and health experts say.
In Europe, Spain’s health ministry on Wednesday scrapped a nationwide plan to gradually reopen nightlife just a week after introducing it, following widespread complaints from regional authorities who dismissed it as either too strict or too loose.
In the Middle East, Abu Dhabi will restrict access to shopping malls, restaurants, cafes and other public places from June 15 to those who have been vaccinated against COVID-19 or recently tested negative.
The new rules were announced as the United Arab Emirates, a federation of seven emirates, has seen daily cases rise over the past three weeks. The UAE, which does not give a breakdown for each emirate, recorded 2,179 new infections on Wednesday, up from 1,229 on May 17.
If the spread of COVID-19 continues at current rates it will be years before the virus is controlled in the Americas, the Pan American Health Organization said, as it called for countries to share excess vaccine doses.
Brazil’s health regulator Anvisa authorized Phase 1 and 2 clinical tests to be carried out on volunteers for the domestically developed Butanvac vaccine.
In Africa, South Africa’s health ministry reported 8,881 new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday, bringing the number of active cases in the country to 66,128.
-From The Associated Press, Reuters and CBC News, last updated at 7:20 a.m. ET