COVID-19 | G7 Should Act On Their Promises for Vaccine Equity

Published June 8, 2021

Thomas J Bollyky, Director of the Global Health Program at the Council on Foreign Relations, discusses his new comment in The Lancet about the Group of 7 (G7) Summit June 11–13, 2021 in Cornwall, UK. He calls on leaders of the G7 countries to consider his approach to an equitable distribution of donated COVID-19 vaccines.


With vaccine supplies shifting from scarcity to abundance in United States and other members of the Group of 7 (G7) largely wealthy nations, this week's summit in Cornwall, United Kingdom may be the time where leaders of those nations finally act on their promises to send surplus doses of vaccine supplies to the many countries where they remain scarce. Maximizing the potential of these vaccine donations depends on those donations going to where they can do the most good, but there isn't consensus on where that would be.

The United States, the UK, and some of the other G7 nations have so far committed to contributing doses through COVAX–the multilateral initiative–but it's population-based allocation mechanism (sending doses to every country so they can vaccinate 20% of their population irrespective of that risk that could be present of that country) has come under some criticism. COVAX organizers have pushed back, pointing out that sending doses to every country makes sense in a pandemic where we can't predict where the next surge will happen.Unless we can reach consensus on where these doses should go, countries will likely split the difference, sending some doses to COVAX and the rest to friends, allies, and strategic partners – which is what we've seen with donations so far.

In this Lancet piece, my colleagues Chris Murray, Bobby Reiner and I propose a different way of approaching this, a way that leverages the fact that short-term models have been fairly predictive and give us a chance to anticipate impending needs so that we can ensure the vaccine donations that we hope come from the G7 summit this week can do the most good in bringing this pandemic to a close.