Former prime minister Gordon Brown has urged that 240m Covid-19 vaccines being distributed to countries in the global south could save 100,000 lives.
It follows the global COVAX scheme, a World Health Organisation (WHO) programme designed so wealthier countries can donate vaccine doses to states less able to bulk buy, missed its target, according to its September supply forecast.
Brown, an advisor to the WHO, has called on world leaders from the UK, the European Union, the US and Canada, to hold an emergency summit to agree on an airlift.
“While vaccines have been pledged for donation from all donors, we are not getting the vaccines into people’s arms and urgently need a month-to-month timetable to meet our interim targets and prevent further loss of lives,” Brown told the Observer.
“An immediate emergency airlift of 240m vaccines this month from the global north to the global south should be followed by the transfer of a further 760m vaccines transferred by February. If we do not use the stockpiled vaccines, many – perhaps 100m – will go to waste when they pass their use-by dates and expire,” he explained.
The ex-prime minister added that the COVAX scheme is the best route in achieving the WHO’s target of all countries being at least 40 per cent vaccinated by the end of the year.
Though the programme is now expected to provide 1.4bn vaccine doses over 2021, a shortfall of nearly a third, the Guardian reported on Wednesday.