G7 foreign ministers have been meeting in London to talk about their “aid”, to poor countries, among other things... And all of them have been cutting it: all the more so, in the light of the pandemic and just when it is needed most! Then again, “aid” never comes for free. As was immediately revealed by the announcement of a £1bn “deal with India” by Johnson, after his zoom meeting with Indian prime minister Modi!
Of course, India is in desperate need of every kind of foreign help right now. This hit home when two of India’s delegation here in London tested Covid positive, sending them all into self-isolation.
But what is the answer of the rich G7? So far, Dominic Raab had the cheek to boast about sending “200 ventilators, 495 oxygen concentrators and three oxygen generation units”! Even if followed up by “1,000 more ventilators” it’s a drop in the ocean. Apparently sharing some of Britain’s 495m doses of vaccine is out, because Britain comes first!
Everyone makes the point that India is home to the largest vaccine producer on the planet - but that only 10% of its population has received a vaccine. Modi only ordered 110m doses - enough for just 4%. After throwing his followers into the path of the virus during the election campaign and watching it rip through the population, he went to a temple to pray! This friend of Boris Johnson has not even declared a total lockdown.
Of course, the main problem is that poor countries like India are prevented from making drugs and vaccines, because of patent laws - one of the issues being discussed in the G7 this week. Britain, the US and the EU are opposed to waiving these, using the lame excuse that there are too many items involved in the supply chain or that legal challenges would be problematic. They compare the £935bn ($1.3 trillion!), the annual turnover of the top 10 G7 pharmaceutical companies, to “the cost” of several hundred thousand dead in India - and for them it’s an easy choice. Their only concern is to preserve the monopoly of these companies’ super-profits. And nothing else.