Leaders at the G7 Summit in UK will call for a new transparent investigation by the World Health Organization (WHO) into the origins of the Coronavirus while pledging one billion doses of vaccines for countries around the world, according to a leaked draft communiqué for the meeting.

The leaders of the G7 states – Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the UK and the US – will gather in the British seaside resort of Cornwall during June 11-13 for the summit. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who was invited by the UK as a special guest but dropped plans to travel to Cornwall because of the pandemic, will virtually join G7 outreach sessions during June 12-13.

A draft communiqué accessed by Bloomberg News said the G7 leaders will call for a “fresh, transparent, WHO-convened study” into the origins of the Coronavirus. This follows calls by several countries, including India and the US, for further studies to determine how Covid-19 spread last year.

“I think we have been very clear that we support the need for a follow-up to the WHO report on the origin of Covid-19 and for further studies and we have called for understanding and cooperation of all in this regard,” external affairs ministry spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said on Thursday, without directly naming China.

India first backed the call for further investigations on May 28, days after US President Joe Biden asked intelligence agencies to redouble their efforts to gather information to facilitate a definitive conclusion on the origin of the Coronavirus and to submit a fresh report on the issue within 90 days. Biden’s action angered China, which has said the US is playing politics.

Within the US intelligence set-up, at least one agency is leaning towards the theory that the virus escaped from a laboratory in Wuhan. Most scientific experts believe the virus jumped to humans from an animal host in a natural event, and the WHO’s probe earlier this year concluded it was “extremely unlikely” the pandemic began in a laboratory.

The draft communiqué also contains a pledge by G7 leaders to deliver at least one billion extra doses of vaccines through dose-sharing and financing over the next year to help cover 80% of the world’s adult population.

G7 officials are putting together the communiqué which outlines a plan to end the pandemic by December 2022. The document will form the basis of “final-stage talks” at the summit and will be released on Sunday.

The figure of one billion additional vaccines doses will include 500 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine that the US will buy for distribution to some 100 countries. The White House said on Thursday the Biden administration had reached an agreement with Pfizer and a formal announcement would be made by the president in remarks before the G7 Summit.

The US will donate 200 million doses in 2021 and 300 million doses in the first half of 2022, and the vaccines will begin shipping in August, the White House said.

The Biden administration earlier said it will donate 80 million doses of vaccines – 20 million of Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson jabs and 60 million doses of AstraZeneca shots – from surplus stocks to countries around the world. Three-fourths of these doses will be distributed through the WHO-backed COVAX facility.

Prime Minister Modi will join the outreach sessions of the G7 Summit at the invitation of his UK counterpart Boris Johnson. The UK, which holds the G7 presidency, has invited India, Australia, South Korea and South Africa, as guest countries for the summit.

The summit’s theme is “Build Back Better” and the UK has outlined four priority areas – leading the global recovery from Covid-19 while strengthening resilience against future pandemics, promoting prosperity by championing free and fair trade, tackling climate change, and championing shared values and open societies.

This is the second time Modi will participate in a G7 meeting. India was invited by the G7 French presidency in 2019 to the Biarritz Summit as a goodwill partner.

World News

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