IMF and World Bank urge G7 to release surplus vaccines


WASHINGTON (Reuters) -The heads of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank on Thursday urged the Group of Seven advanced economies to release any excess COVID-19 vaccines to developing countries as soon as possible, and called on manufacturers to ramp up production.

In a joint statement to the G7, IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva and World Bank President David Malpass also called on governments, pharmaceutical companies and groups involved in vaccine procurement to boost transparency about contracting, financing and deliveries.

“Distributing vaccines more widely is both an urgent economic necessity and a moral imperative,” they said. “The coronavirus pandemic will not end until everyone has access to vaccines, including people in developing countries.”

Malpass and Georgieva will meet in person on Friday and Saturday with finance officials from the G7 countries – Britain, the United States, Canada, Germany, Italy, France and Japan – with the COVID-19 pandemic set to be a central topic.

The novel coronavirus has killed more than 3.7 million people worldwide, according to a Reuters tally.

While about half the population in the United States has received at least one dose of the vaccine, the percentage in developing countries is still in the single digits, said Mamta Murthi, vice president for human development at the World Bank.

The World Bank, World Health Organization and World Trade Organization this week endorsed a $50 billion IMF proposal aimed at ending the pandemic by expanding access to vaccines.

“The World Bank Group and the International Monetary Fund call on countries anticipating excess vaccine supplies in the coming months to release their surplus doses and options as soon as possible, in a transparent manner, to developing countries with adequate distribution plans in place,” Georgieva and Malpass said in their letter to G7 officials.

They also called for greater efforts to increase transparency regarding vaccine contracts, options and agreements; vaccine financing and delivery agreements; and doses delivered and future delivery plans.

(Reporting by Andrea ShalalAdditional reporting by David LawderEditing by Chizu Nomiyama and David Holmes)

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