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Putin censures G20 leaders for COVID vaccine inequality

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
President Vladimir Putin of Russia attends a session of the G20 summit via teleconference in Moscow, October 30, 2021. (Photo via AFP)

Russian President Vladimir Putin has censured the Group of 20 leaders over their failure to meet a promise of equitable distribution of coronavirus vaccines, urging them to fast-track mutual recognition of vaccine certificates.

In a video address to the G20 summit — with the world’s top 20 economies — who gathered in Rome on Saturday, Putin said despite their promises, “not all countries in need can have access to anti-COVID vaccines.”

“This happens mainly because of dishonest competition, protectionism and because some states, especially those of the G20, are not ready for mutual recognition of vaccines and vaccination certificates,” Putin added.

The Russian leader also urged the G20 health ministers to discuss the mutual recognition of vaccines and vaccination certificates “as soon as possible.”

Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine, which is widely used at home and approved for use in over 70 countries, is undergoing a review by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the European Medicines Agency (EMA).

Earlier this month, South Africa refused to approve the Russian jab despite its dire need for vaccines, claiming it could increase the risk of HIV infection among men.

Wealthy nations are offering their population the third vaccine doses and increasingly inoculating children, but poor countries have only administered an estimated four doses per 100 people, according to the WHO.

In an open letter to the G20, the head of the health organization, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, urged the leaders of the world’s largest economies to “help stem the pandemic by expanding access to vaccines and other tools for the people and places where these are in shortest supply.”

Health experts and activists accuse wealthy nations of not doing enough to help people in poor nations tackle the pandemic.

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