The coronavirus pandemic has dominated the start of the annual G20 summit of world leaders hosted this year by Saudi Arabia.
Delegates are having to attend virtually because of COVID-19 contagion fears, and it is the pandemic that is the key issue on the minds of many speakers, specifically the swift worldwide availability of vaccines.
Speaking at a press briefing on Friday afternoon, the EU Commission outlined that having a common policy on vaccines was "the only real exit strategy" from the crisis, as it would make sure the cure could be mass-produced and distributed globally at affordable prices.
A diplomatic source said that manufacturing production is scaling up fast towards the objective of producing two billion vaccine doses by the end of 2021.
But, as an EU source stressed, $38 billion (€32 billion) are needed in the long term, with around $4.5 billion (€3.8 billion) due by the end of this year “to stay on target with our objectives”.
Furthermore, the EU Commission wants all G20 leaders to make a clear commitment on that.
Speaking during the G20 conference, Russian president Vladimir Putin said his country "supports the key decision of this summit, the project directed at ensuring access to effective and safe (COVID) vaccines to all.
"Without a doubt", he added, "immunisation drugs should be the property of all of humanity. Our country of Russia is ready to provide countries in need with vaccines developed by our scientists".
Putin's thoughts were echoed by the Italian Prime Minister, Giuseppe Conte, but he widened the subject, calling for a broader coordinated response to manage the pandemic.
"We need targeted investments aimed at the struggling healthcare systems worldwide while supporting environmental and social resilience and avoiding further economic disruption," he explained, adding "It's a daunting task, but Italy is ready to play its part".