Ahead of the G7 summit, prime minister Boris Johnson today announced the UK will donate 100m surplus coronavirus vaccines worldwide within the next year.
80m doses will be supplied to the Covax vaccine sharing scheme, while the remaining 20m doses will be shared bilaterally with countries in need.
The donated doses will come from the UK’s expected excess supply, 5m of which will be shared within the next five weeks. As such, the move will not delay the UK’s domestic vaccination programme, even if new strains emerge, according to the government.
The prime minister said: “We are now in a position to share some of our surplus doses with those who need them.
“At the G7 Summit I hope my fellow leaders will make similar pledges so that, together, we can vaccinate the world by the end of next year.”
A global effort
G7 leaders are expected to set out a plan to provide at least 1bn vaccine doses to the world through dose sharing and financing. This will involve a global expansion of vaccine manufacturing.
The European Centre for Disease prevention and Control (ECDC) and World Health Organization (WHO) recently called on wealthier nations to reconsider inoculating young adults and adolescents while global shortages of Covid-19 vaccines persist.
The prime minister is also expected to ask the group to encourage pharmaceutical companies to provide vaccines at cost for the duration of the pandemic. AstraZeneca already supplies doses on a not-for-profit basis, while Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson have pledged to share 1.3bn doses at cost.
Jabs all round
The Covax scheme aims to reduce vaccine inequality by encouraging wealthier nations to donate vaccine supplies. Established last year, it has provided 81m doses to 129 countries, 96 per cent of which were the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine.
The UK previously pledged £548m to the scheme but ministers urged to government to do more earlier this month. The All-Party Parliamentary Group suggested introducing vaccine matching, where the UK would donate one dose for each dose imported into the UK.