Business minister Kwasi Kwarteng has said this morning the UK will focus on vaccinating its adult population before offering surplus doses to neighbouring countries.
More than 30m people have been given at least one shot of the vaccine so far in the UK’s largest inoculation programme to date.
The UK has aimed to offer all adults a vaccine by the end of July, but mounting concern over vaccine supply in Europe has turned the global effort sour.
“I think our focus has to be to try and keep Britain safe, we want to work cooperatively as well with other countries but the main priority is to get the vaccine rollout,” Kwarteng told Sky News.
The minister urged that the vaccine row with Europe was not “a competitive situation”.
“If there are surplus vaccine doses then we can share them but there are no surpluses at the moment, we have still got a huge number to vaccinate,” the minister added, regarding Ireland receiving surplus shots.
Earlier today, prime minister Boris Johnson called for a global ‘pandemic treaty’ with 23 other leaders, including French president Emmanuel Macron and German chancellor Angela Merkel, amid the public vaccine spat with Europe.
The treaty would gather resources for pandemic preparedness and establish a network through which to tackle future health emergencies.
“The Covid-19 pandemic is the biggest challenge to the global community since the 1940s,” the leaders wrote in a collective comment piece in The Telegraph.
“There will be other pandemics and other major health emergencies. No single government or multilateral agency can address this threat alone…The Covid-19 pandemic has been a stark and painful reminder that nobody is safe until everyone is safe.”
On Monday, healthcare firm GlaxoSmithKline confirmed plans for the final push in the manufacturing process for up to 60m doses of Novavax’s vaccine for use in the UK.
“Today we’ve got a crisis upon us, and it’s absolutely right that we should be focused on trying to deal with that in our own country and keeping our people safe, so that we can get back to a normal way of life,” Kwarteng said.