Britain is hosting a two-day summit of health ministers from the Group of Seven nations, with a focus on sharing vaccines and better identifying threats to global health security.
The talks in Oxford on Thursday and Friday come ahead of a summit of G-7 leaders next week in Cornwall.
Countries that have carried out large-scale vaccination efforts against COVID-19 are facing pressure to do more to help other parts of the world where vaccine supply has been short.
World Health Organization Director-General, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said “we need doses to be shared right now.” Vaccine equity is “critical to end the pandemic,” he added.
British health minister Matt Hancock said more than 75% of adults in the U.K. have received their first dose. In the United States, another G-7 member, about 63% of adults have received a COVID-19 vaccination.
The United States has pledged $4 billion to the COVAX global vaccine-sharing program. The goal of the global program is to deliver vaccine doses to people in lower-income countries by the end of 2021. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Tuesday the Biden administration would announce in the next week or two its plans for distributing 80 million COVID-19 vaccine doses to other countries.
Ahead of Thursday’s start of the G-7 summit, Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said his country’s government would add another $800 million to help the COVAX program.
The health ministers will also examine ways to prevent diseases from spreading from animals to humans, including joint efforts to identify early warning signs in animals and the environment.