Xi and Putin call for equal treatment of vaccines at G-20 meeting

ROME – China’s President Xi Jinping urged Group of 20 leaders to treat all Covid-19 vaccines equally as he pushed for greater mutual recognition of World Health Organisation-approved shots.

Addressing the summit via video link, Xi called on nations to back the World Trade Organisation making an early decision on whether to waive intellectual rights for vaccines and encouraged companies to transfer technology to developing nations, according to China’s state broadcaster CCTV.

Xi also took the opportunity to lash out at those he said were politicising the tracing of the origins of Covid-19 and building “small cliques” based on ideology in tech innovation.

Russian President Vladimir Putin advanced a similar message on Covid shots, accusing some G-20 members of protectionism on the issue of recognising vaccine certificates.

Xi and Putin are among those skipping an in-person appearance in Rome.

Both countries face a fresh rise in Covid cases.

Russia’s president urged fellow leaders in a video address to instruct their health ministries to “work out as soon as possible the question of mutual recognition of national vaccine certificates,” accusing some G-20 states of indulging in “unfair competition.”

While he reiterated that Russia had registered the world’s first Covid-19 vaccine, its Sputnik V shot still hasn’t been recognised by regulators in the EU and the United States.

Putin also blamed the “root cause” of surging food and energy prices on “serious budget deficits in developed economies.”

The US was responsible for 40 per cent of the total budget deficit of all G-20 states while Russia had curtailed spending and planned a surplus this year, he said.

Continued budget deficits “creates the risk of high global inflation in the medium term,” threatening business activity and efforts to reduce inequality.

Negotiators at the G-20 summit are also racing the clock to reach a climate deal that can be taken on to the crucial United Nations COP26 summit in Glasgow.

Officials have failed so far to agree on a draft, with stark differences over timelines to reach specific climate goals and whether countries can wean themselves off coal entirely.

The hope is for COP26 to advance pledges made in the Paris climate accord.

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