G-7 nations expected to pledge 1 billion vaccine doses for world; plus more virus news

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The Group of Seven nations are set to commit to sharing at least 1 billion coronavirus shots with the world, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced Thursday, with half coming from the U.S. and 100 million from the U.K. as President Joe Biden urged allies to join in speeding the pandemic’s end and bolstering the strategic position of the world’s wealthiest democracies.

Johnson’s announcement on the eve of the G-7 leaders’ summit in England came hours after Biden committed to donating 500 million COVID-19 vaccine doses and previewed a coordinated effort by the advanced economies to make vaccination widely and speedily available everywhere.

“We’re going to help lead the world out of this pandemic working alongside our global partners,” Biden said, adding that on Friday the G-7 nations would join the U.S. in outlining their vaccine donation commitments. The G-7 also includes Canada, France, Germany, Italy and Japan.

The prime minister’s office said the first 5 million U.K. doses would be shared in the coming weeks, with the remainder coming over the next year. Biden’s own commitment was on top of the 80 million doses he has already pledged to donate by the end of June.

In other developments:

  • The Biden administration has exempted most employers from long-awaited rules for protecting workers from the coronavirus. The move has angered labor advocates who have have spent more than a year lobbying for the protections.
  • For the millions of Americans newly experiencing food insecurity during the pandemic, a particular crisis is hitting those with food allergies and intolerances: Most charitable and government food programs offer limited options.
  • U.S. health officials have extended the expiration date for the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine by six weeks. The drugmaker said Thursday that the Food and Drug Administration approved a shelf life of 4 1/2 months for the one-dose shots.
  • The Westminster Kennel Club dog show is trading the buzz of the Big Apple for the airy grounds of a suburban riverfront estate this weekend. That’s one of many changes prompted by pandemic precautions.