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World could be ‘adequately’ vaccinated by mid-2022, says Dominic Raab

·3 min read

The Foreign Secretary has said giving away the UK’s excess Covid-19 jabs could mean the world will be “adequately vaccinated” by mid-2022, and make the country “safer” as a result.

Dominic Raab confirmed on Wednesday that the UK will ship its first batch of excess coronavirus vaccines to “vulnerable” nations and Commonwealth allies this week.

The UK made a pledge to donate 100 million of its excess vaccine doses to poorer nations at the G7 summit in Cornwall in June.

HEALTH Coronavirus
(PA Graphics)

On Thursday, Mr Raab justified the decision, saying: “We are safer when the rest of the world is safer.”

He told Sky News: “At the start of the pandemic, when we did our vaccine programme, we secured multiple sources and supplies and overall the volume of vaccines to make sure we had security of supply.

“We have already given a huge amount through Covax, through the financing of Covax, but we can now, from domestic supply, start to give 100 million, which will get the world vaccinated.

“We have got moral reasons for doing that. You look at Jamaica, Laos, Cambodia, some of the countries – Kenya – we are vaccinating and we feel a sense of moral responsibility.

“But we also know, bluntly, that we are safer when the rest of the world is safer, whether it is for people going on holiday or whether it is just the ordinary course of international trade that we need and we rely on.”

Coronavirus – Wed Jul 28, 2021
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab during a visit to Oxbox Biomedica, an AstraZeneca manufacturing site, in Oxford (Steve Parsons/PA)

He added: “The reason we want to do that is we want to get the world adequately vaccinated by the middle of next year rather than, on current trajectory, the end of 2024.

“Think about what that means, not just for us but for those countries: massive difference – that is why we are doing what we are doing.”

The Foreign Secretary visited an AstraZeneca manufacturing site in Oxford on Wednesday to announce that the first despatch of excess UK doses will be making their way to poorer nations this week – with five million to be distributed via the World Health Organisation’s Covax scheme and another four million bilaterally.

Indonesia will receive 600,000 doses of those being handed out bilaterally, 300,000 will be sent to Jamaica and 817,000 are to be transported to Kenya, among other countries, the Foreign Office said.

Ahead of the G7 summit in June, the Government had faced calls to start distributing excess vaccines abroad, including from scientific advisers and the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Coronavirus.

Meanwhile, on Thursday it was announced that one billion doses of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine had been released to more than 170 countries around the world.

Dame Sarah Gilbert, co-developer of the vaccine, hailed the “milestone”.

She said: “We started to create this vaccine in January 2020 without knowing if it would ever be needed.

“To have reached one billion doses released only 18 months later is a phenomenal achievement on the part of AstraZeneca, who have co-ordinated manufacturing at multiple sites around the world to reach this milestone.”

Fellow co-developer Sir Andrew Pollard, who is director of the Oxford Vaccine Group, said there is “huge satisfaction and pride” for the researchers and members of the public who took part in the trials

He added: “There is still so much to do, and all in the supply chain are pushing on knowing the next billion people are still waiting for their doses.”

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