G20 leaders back COVID measures as deaths top 5 million

At the G20 leaders meeting in Rome this weekend, the group agreed on a goal of vaccinating at least 70% of the world's population by the middle of next year, and with the world still grappling with a number of hot spots, the death toll this weekend topped 5 million.

COVID-19 a major G20 topic

Prior to the meeting, global health officials and other groups called on the G20 leaders, who hail from developed countries, to take decisive political and financial steps to end the pandemic. Along with the 70% goal, the group agreed on a goal of vaccinating at least 40% of the world's population by the end of the year.

In the Rome Declaration released yesterday at the end of the 2-day meeting, the group agreed to take steps to boost the global vaccine supply and asked health ministers to monitor the progress. Example of steps include easing export rules, strengthening supply chains and boosting global production capacity. They backed the ACT Accelerator's next phase and called on the private sector and multilateral groups to contribute to the efforts.

Also, the group also established a joint finance-health task force to improve global coordination and funding of pandemic preparedness measures with an eye toward exploring new funding mechanisms. The new task force was asked to report back by early 2022.

In a related development, the World Health Organization and its United Nations partners called on the G20 leaders to make COVID-19 vaccines accessible to people on the move, such as those fleeing conflict and other hardships. They also pressed for the vaccination goals that the group agreed to and urged more support for low- and middle-income countries for their pandemic battles.

More global headlines

  • Novavax today announced that its recombinant COVID-19 vaccine manufactured by India's Serum Institute has been approved for emergency use by heath officials in Indonesia, marking the first such approval. The vaccine, which was part of the United States' Operation Warp Speed, had faced manufacturing problems, but is now in the process of submitting emergency use authorizations to regulators in several countries —including Australia, the United Kingdom, and Canada—but not the United States. The recombinant nanoparticle protein-based vaccine contains the Matrix-M adjuvant.

  • US intelligence agencies on Oct 29 released a declassified assessment on the origins of SARS-CoV-2, which said which followed a 90-day review ordered by President Joe Biden. The agencies said an animal source and a lab leak were both plausible, but the different agencies didn't agree on which was the more likely scenario. However, they did agree that the virus likely wasn't made as a bioweapon. The agencies also noted that the source may never be known.

  • In outbreak developments, Tonga last week detected its first COVID-19 case of the pandemic involving someone who had traveled from New Zealand, and today health officials ordered a week-long lockdown on the main island to ensure the safety of the population, of which 31% are fully vaccinated and 48% have at least one dose, according to NBC News. Meanwhile, New Zealand extended Auckland's lockdown for one more week as the country today recorded 162 new cases, a new daily record high, according to Reuters.

  • The global totals are at 246,987,538 cases, and 5,004,113 people have died from their infections, according to the Johns Hopkins tracker. The five countries with the most fatalities are the United States, Brazil, India, Mexico, and Russia.

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