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G7: UK to donate 100 million surplus vaccine doses

Published on 11/06/21 at 08:51am

Boris Johnson has announced at the G7 meeting in Cornwall that the UK will donate over 100 million surplus doses of COVID-19 vaccine to poorer countries.

President of the US, Joe Biden, has also pledged 500 million Pfizer vaccines to 92 low and middle-income countries and the African Union.

Speaking in Cornwall, Biden said: "The United States is providing these half billion doses with no strings attached. No strings attached. Our vaccine donations don't include pressure for favours, or potential concessions. We're doing this to save lives."

Five million doses will be given by the UK by the end of September, with 25 million more by the end of the year.

The leaders attending the G7 summit, including Canada, Japan, France, Germany, and Italy, are expected to agree to provide a billion doses of coronavirus vaccines in a collective effort to end the pandemic. The countries are also setting out plans to increase vaccine manufacturing to help reach this goal.

In an article published on Friday, Johnson wrote: “I want the G7 to adopt an exacting yet profoundly necessary target: to provide one billion doses to developing countries in order to vaccinate everyone in the world by the end of next year.

“Nothing like this has ever been tried before and if you doubt whether it can be done, I would urge you to take heart from the unprecedented feats already achieved in the adversity of this pandemic. Our scientists devised vaccines against COVID-19 faster than any disease had ever been overcome before. Britain and many other countries are inoculating their populations more swiftly than anyone thought possible.

“Now we must bring the same spirit of urgency and ingenuity to a global endeavour to protect humanity everywhere. It can be done, it must be done – and this G7 summit should resolve that it will be done.”

The UK government has already donated £548 million to COVAX, the scheme that distributes vaccines to the world's poorest countries, and was also an integral part in the development of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine.

AstraZeneca has been distributing their jab at cost, with two-thirds of the 400m doses going to low and middle-income countries, including 170 million to India.

It is hoped that the surplus doses of vaccine could help prevent the spread of the virus around the world and in doing so, restrict the emergence of more new variants.

The donation announcement comes after the UK went back on a commitment to spend 0.7% of national income on overseas aid, instead cutting that to 0.5%, citing the pandemic's effect on public finances.

The donation of vaccines will count as extra aid spending on top of the £10 billion promised under the reduced target.

Kat Jenkins

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