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G20 to back ‘equitable’ access to coronavirus vaccine

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Moderna has already taken in $1.1 billion in deposits for a Covid-19 vaccine that will be launched following the completion of clinical trials and regulatory approval Luka GONZALES AFP/File

G20 leaders will pledge to “spare no effort” in ensuring the equitable distribution of coronavirus vaccines worldwide and reaffirm support for debt-laden poor countries, according to a draft communique seen by AFP Sunday.

The leaders also struck a unified tone on supporting “multilateral” trade as well as the global fight against climate change, but the closing document lacks firm details on many of the issues dominating the virtual summit hosted by Riyadh.

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The two-day gathering that began Saturday comes as international efforts intensify for a large-scale rollout of coronavirus vaccines after a breakthrough in trials, and as EU and other leaders call for G20 nations to plug a $4.5-billion funding shortfall.

G20 leaders will pledge to “spare no effort” in ensuring the equitable distribution of coronavirus vaccines worldwide. This picture shows nurses helping a Covid-19 patient at an Athens hospital

“We have mobilised resources to address the immediate financing needs in global health to support the research, development, manufacturing and distribution of safe and effective Covid-19 diagnostics, therapeutics and vaccines,” the draft document said.

“We will spare no effort to ensure their affordable and equitable access for all people, consistent with members’ commitments to incentivise innovation.”

The communique offered no details on how the effort will be funded.

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There could be changes in the final version of the document, which will be released later Sunday by the Saudi hosts.

In a comment echoed by other world leaders, French President Emmanuel Macron said Saturday the coronavirus crisis was “a test for the G20”, stressing there “will be no effective response to the pandemic unless it is a global response”.

On trade, the club of the world’s richest nations also emphasised that supporting a multilateral system “is now as important as ever”

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G20 nations have contributed more than $21 billion to combat the pandemic, which has infected 56 million people globally and left 1.3 million dead, and injected $11 trillion to “safeguard” the virus-battered world economy, summit organisers said.

But the group’s leaders face mounting pressure to help stave off possible credit defaults across developing nations.

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G20 nations have extended a debt service suspension initiative (DSSI) for developing countries until June next year, but UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has pushed for a commitment to extend it until the end of 2021.

The draft communique, however, did not offer a firm commitment.

G20 finance ministers will examine the recommendation when the IMF and World Bank meet next spring “if the economic and financial situation requires” an extension by another six months, it said.

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– Closing ranks on climate –

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said she expected “new momentum from the new US administration” on climate change and a reversal of Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris climate accord

On trade, the club of the world’s richest nations also emphasised that supporting a multilateral system “is now as important as ever”.

“We strive to realise the goal of a free, fair, inclusive, non-discriminatory, transparent, predictable, and stable trade and investment environment, and to keep our markets open,” the communique said.

Ahead of the summit, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said she hoped the US will adopt a more multilateralist stance under the incoming administration of Joe Biden.

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US President Donald Trump’s robust “America first” trade policy has rankled world leaders.

Von der Leyen also added that she expected consensus and a “new momentum from the new US administration” on climate change, and a reversal of Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris climate accord.

Differences within the G20 group surfaced at last year’s summit in the Japanese city of Osaka as the United States demanded the insertion of a separate paragraph on issues such as environmental protection.

But under the Saudi chairmanship, G20 leaders projected a unified stance, with the draft communique reiterating support for tackling “pressing” environmental challenges.

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‘Insane baby’ Trump mocked after holding a press briefing — and then fleeing after just 60 seconds

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President Donald Trump on Tuesday held a "press briefing" that consisted of him boasting about the Dow Jones Industrial Average hitting a record-high 30,000 points -- and then running away without taking any questions.

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Check out some reactions below.

oh my god that insane baby

— Oliver Willis (@owillis) November 24, 2020

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2020 Election

Trump abruptly ends news conference after 1 minute as reporters grill him on conceding

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President Donald Trump took one minute out of his day on Thursday to hold a press conference in which he took credit for gains in the stock market, which came after President-elect Joe Biden's transition was allowed to formally begin.

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Paul Krugman says Trump’s final days in office are like a Star Wars sequel: ‘The Loser Strikes Back’

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Writing in the New York Times this Tuesday, columnist Paul Krugman says that while we all knew that President Trump would react badly to losing the 2020 election,  his temper tantrum and the "willingness of almost the entire Republican Party to indulge him have surpassed even pessimists’ expectations."

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