G20 health and finance ministers said they would aim to ensure 70 percent of the world's population is vaccinated against Covid-19 by mid-2022 but took no initiative on waiving vaccine patents.

Activists in Rome assembled around a coffin  with a banner reading
Activists in Rome assembled around a coffin with a banner reading "5,000,000 deaths" to symbolise worldwide Covid-19 victims. (Luca Bruno / AP)

Activists from charity groups have held a flash mob in Rome ahead of the G20 leaders' summit, calling on leaders of the world's biggest economies to end inequalities between nations in access to Covid-19 treatments and vaccines.

Activists assembled around a coffin on Friday with a banner reading "5,000,000 deaths" – symbolising worldwide victims of the disease.

"What we demand from the G20 is to distribute existing vaccines in a more just way so everybody has access to vaccines, no matter where he or she lives," G20 coordinator for Oxfam, Jorn Kalinsky, said.

Two demonstrators wore suits, white masks and signs around their neck reading "pharma CEO" as they threw fake money on the street. Another demonstrator carried a red sign saying: "I want a people's vaccine, not a profit vaccine".

Oxfam, Amnesty International and the Italian group Emergency urged G20 leaders to find immediate solutions to save lives, saying a suspension of vaccine patents help boost production and help states unable to afford prices demanded by the industry.

READ MORE: How Covid vaccine hoarding and selfishness can create a pandemic loop

G20 health and finance ministers, meeting on Friday ahead of the leaders' summit, said they would aim to ensure 70 percent of the world's population is vaccinated against Covid-19 by mid-2022 but took no initiative on waiving vaccine patents.

German Finance Minister Olaf Scholz said the issue had not even been discussed.

The G-20, whose annual summit plays out in Rome this weekend, has morphed from its creation in the 1990s as an international group to grapple with financial crises into a forum facing such pressing problems as worldwide vaccine access and climate change.

Whether its structure is still suitable to help to respond to the evolving needs of our times will be put to a test with its first in-presence summit since the Covid-19 pandemic.

The grouping accounts for 60 percent of the planet's population. But only one nation from Africa, a continent critically affected by health crises and climate change, is part of the G-20 fold.

READ MORE: Climate crisis, economic recovery deal top agenda at Rome's G20 summit

Source: TRTWorld and agencies