President Biden and allied leaders pledged Friday to provide 1 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines to the developing world through 2022 as the Group of Seven nations kicked off their three-day summit with handshakes and a “family photo” on the beach in Cornwall, England.
The White House confirmed the pledge while underscoring the U.S.’s decision to commit 500 million doses, or half of the allotment from the G-7 and guest countries.
Wealthy nations that snapped up doses of highly effective vaccines face pressure to help disadvantaged parts of the world, where vaccination rates are far lower. Deliveries under the G-7 plan will begin this summer.
“The G-7+ action plan that will be agreed to by leaders in Cornwall includes vaccinating the world’s most vulnerable, providing emergency supplies, bolstering worldwide economic recovery, and positioning the international community to prepare for, prevent, detect and respond to future biological catastrophes,” the White House said.
Administration officials touted the plan as U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his wife, Carrie, directed world leaders and their spouses across a raised platform along the picturesque shores of Carbis Bay for a series of kickoff photos.
“Everybody in the water,” Mr. Biden quipped.
“I feel like I’m at a wedding,” said first lady Jill Biden as she walked across the beach in a red dress.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s hair flapped in the wind before German Chancellor Angela Merkel took the platform to elbow-bump Mr. Johnson and Mrs. Johnson in pandemic fashion, though no one wore a mask.
The photo session kicked off a summit that Mr. Biden views as an opportunity to address COVID-19 globally and reaffirm traditional alliances amid aggressive moves by Russia and China.
After the weekend G-7, Mr. Biden will attend the NATO summit in Belgium and meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Switzerland on June 16.
Asked what his message to Mr. Putin will be, Mr. Biden told reporters Friday: “I’ll tell you after I deliver it.”