G7 Zoom fail! Confusion at Boris Johnson’s virtual meeting with world leaders when Germany’s Angela Merkel fails to hit the mute button
- He joked with new US president that he nicked his ‘build back better’ soundbite
- Johnson urged G7 counterparts to avoid vaccine nationalism to beat pandemic
- PM forced to ask Germany’s Angela Merkel to mute herself at the start of call
It has been a common problem for millions of office workers around the world over the past year – the dreaded failure to mute their microphone while on a Zoom call.
And today Germany’s Angela Merkel showed that world leaders were not immune from the faux pas as she had to be told to pipe down by Boris Johnson at a meeting of world leaders.
The Prime Minister had to intervene at the start of a virtual G7 meeting that he was hosting from Downing Street this afternoon, which focused on how to solve the coronavirus pandemic.
With US president Joe Biden, French leader Emmanuel Macron and new Italian premier Mario Draghi among those listening to Mr Johnson’s opening remarks about wanting a face-to-face meeting at the G7 summit in Cornwall in June, the chancellor suddenly interrupted him.
‘Can you hear us Angela,’ Johnson quipped over the German, chuckling. ‘I think you need to mute.’
In a lively opening address, the PM also accused Joe Biden of stealing one of his slogans as the two leaders faced each other – on screen at least- for the first time.
Mr Johnson urged the G7 leaders to work together on ‘building back better’ from the pandemic.
He went on to claim it was a slogan that Mr Biden had used, adding: ‘I think he may have nicked it from us but I certainly nicked it from somewhere else – probably some UN disaster relief programme.’
Mr Biden could be seen laughing on the video call on the screen inside the Cabinet Room.
The call also suffered a microphone malfunction suffered by millions who have used video conferencing in the past 11 months – with Mr Johnson forced to ask Germany’s Angela Merkel to mute herself at the start.
French President Emmanuel Macron attended the meeting from the Elysee Palace in Paris
The Prime Minister joked with the new US p[resident that he had nicked his ‘build back better’ soundbite as he hosted a virtual meeting of the G7.
Britain is to donate millions of surplus vaccine doses to poorer countries, Boris Johnson announced
The Prime Minister’s pledge could see developing nations benefit before the end of the year if the UK vaccination programme goes to plan.
As Britain takes over the G7 presidency, Mr Johnson urged other world leaders to support an ambitious target to develop new vaccines in 100 days – a third of the time it took to create the Pfizer jab.
Mr Johnson said: ‘Science is finally getting the upper hand on Covid, which is a great, great thing and long overdue.
‘But there is no point in us vaccinating our individual populations – we’ve got to make sure the whole world is vaccinated because this is a global pandemic and it’s no use one country being far ahead of another, we’ve got to move together.
‘So, one of the things that I know that colleagues will be wanting to do is to ensure that we distribute vaccines at cost around the world – make sure everybody gets the vaccines that they need so that the whole world can come through this pandemic together.’
Today’s virtual G7 meeting is Mr Johnson’s first major multilateral summit with new US President Joe Biden.
They are due to meet in person at a scaled-down summer G7 summit in Cornwall – with attendees subjected to a strict Covid testing regime.
It comes as data from the anti-poverty group the ONE campaign revealed Australia, Canada, Japan, the UK, the US and the EU have purchased more than 3billion doses of the vaccine. This leaves a surplus of 1.2billion.
Mr Johnson vowed to share up to 75 per cent of the UK’s surplus vaccine supplies with developing nations under the international Covax initiative.
Countries such as Ireland, which have been hard-hit by production problems, could benefit – although no firm decisions have yet been made.
The details of Britain’s donation will be settled later this year, once it has been determined whether residents require third doses or booster jabs for emerging variants.
The UK has ordered more than 400million jabs from seven different companies, including 100million doses of the Oxford vaccine.
The total number of orders works out at around five vaccine doses per head – meaning there should be a sizeable surplus.
Doses could be deemed surplus to our requirements while still in production, meaning they could be diverted to those in need without ever reaching British shores.
A woman receives the AstraZeneca vaccine at an NHS vaccination centre in Ealing, west London
The Prime Minister will also urge other world leaders to support an ambitious target to develop new vaccines in 100 days
A graph showing the number of vaccines per day in the UK. Over 16.4 million people have so far received at least one dose in the UK
The UK hopes to have offered a vaccine to its entire adult population by the autumn – but the World Health Organisation has warned of a looming ‘catastrophic moral failure’ amid concerns that poorer countries would struggle to secure supplies.
Professor Azeem Majeed of Imperial College London today told Good Morning Britain spare vaccines will only be offered to developing countries once this process is completed.
He said: ‘We plan to vaccinate everyone in the UK by September so the plan is to finish that process first and only offer spare vaccines once we have enough to vaccinate our own population, which I think is a reasonable step to do.
‘So hopefully by the summer everyone will have been offered a vaccine and then we’ll have vaccinations to offer to other countries.’
Health Secretary Matt Hancock confirmed this week that he hoped all adults in Britain would be offered the vaccination ‘a bit before’ September.
The Covax group has already agreed deals for 1.1billion doses. Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said yesterday: ‘Vaccinating everyone, everywhere, is our collective way out of this pandemic.
It comes as the Prime Minister prepares for his first major multilateral summit with the new US President Joe Biden today
The percentage of 70 to 74-year-olds who have been given their first dose of Covid-19 vaccine
‘The UK is clear that as a world leader we have a moral and national interest in making this happen, which is why we are committing to share the majority of any future surplus doses with Covax to support the countries who need them most.
‘We are already one of the biggest donors to Covax, helping to get more than one billion doses to the world’s poorest people.
Macron calls on Europe and the US to send five per cent of vaccines to developing countries
French President Emmanuel Macron today called on Europe and the US to donate up to five per cent of their vaccine supplies to developing nations.
He told the Financial Times: ‘We’re not talking about billions of doses immediately, or billions and billions of euros.
‘It’s about much more rapidly allocating 4-5% of the doses we have.
‘It won’t change our vaccination campaigns, but each country should set aside a small number of the doses it has to transfer tens of millions of them, but very fast, so that people on the ground see it happening.’
‘International co-operation has to be at the heart of this effort, so we are calling on the G7 and other nations to step up support to get vaccines to everyone.’
Today’s virtual summit will see Mr Johnson urge Britain’s fellow members – the US, Japan, Canada, Germany, France and Italy – to increase funding for Covax.
In addition, he will call on the group to support the 100-day target set by the international Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (Cepi) for developing and approving new vaccines and treatments.
Mr Johnson’s chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance is to work with the WHO and Cepi, along with industry experts, in the drive to secure faster results.
‘Perhaps more than ever, the hopes of the world rest on the shoulders of scientists,’ Mr Johnson will say. ‘Over the last year, like countless times before, they have risen to the challenge.
‘The development of viable coronavirus vaccines offers the tantalising prospect of a return to normality, but we must not rest on our laurels. As leaders of the G7 we must say today ‘never again’.
By harnessing our collective ingenuity, we can ensure we have the vaccines, treatments and tests to be battle-ready for future health threats.’
Today’s video conference marks the first meeting of the G7 since last April, with leaders due to travel to England in June.
Officials insisted yesterday that the Cornwall summit is likely to go ahead in person, albeit on a much smaller scale than previous meetings.
Mr Johnson, Mr Biden and others will be subjected to rigorous virus testing, and a ‘bubble’ system will be used to prevent the spread of infection.
The Prime Minister has also invited the leaders of India, South Korea and Australia to Cornwall, with a view to creating a ‘D10’ group of leading democracies.
Issues on the agenda will include climate change and the economic recovery following the Covid crisis.
WHICH AREAS HAVE GIVEN OUT THE LEAST FIRST DOSES TO THE OVER-70S?
North Central London
79.4 per cent
Barking and Dagenham
78.1 per cent
Hammersmith and Fulham
78.1 per cent
77.9 per cent
77.9 per cent
City and Hackney
72.6 per cent
70.5 per cent
70.3 per cent
West London CCG
67.5 per cent
Central London (Westminster) CCG
60.9 per cent
WHICH AREAS HAVE GIVEN OUT THE MOST FIRST DOSES TO THE OVER-70S?
North East Hampshire and Farnham
99.8 per cent
East Leicestershire and Rutland
99.3 per cent
99.3 per cent
99.1 per cent
Bath and North East Somerset, Swindon and Wiltshire
99.0 per cent
98.9 per cent
98.8 per cent
98.6 per cent
Vale of York
98.6 per cent
98.5 per cent
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