WTO calls on the UK and other wealthy countries to send Covid vaccines to poorer nations
The World Trade Organisation (WTO) has called on wealthier nations to act now and begin sending Covid vaccines to poorer countries, rather than waiting until a surplus has built up. The call comes as part of the World Health Organisation-led Covax initiative, which aims to ensure that all countries have an equal opportunity to vaccinate their citizens. If the UK receives all of the coronavirus jabs it currently has on order, the country will have enough doses to vaccinate every adult person six times over, and just before the G7 meeting on Friday, February 19, the Prime Minister vowed to donate the majority of the extra doses to poorer nations.
However, WTO chief Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that now is the time to act, not later.
She said: ‘I don’t think we should wait to get surplus when other people have been served.
‘I think that any donations that are coming must come now.
‘The reason is very simple. It’s in the interest of rich countries as well as poor countries to have equitable access.’
Speaking from No 10 to the international leaders at the G7 meeting, Mr Johnson reiterated that as it is a global pandemic, vaccinating only the wealthiest nations isn’t an option.
‘Science is finally getting the upper hand on Covid, which is a great, great thing and long overdue,’ the Prime Minister said.
‘But there is no point in us vaccinating our individual populations – we’ve got to make sure the whole world is vaccinated because this is a global pandemic and it’s no use one country being far ahead of another, we’ve got to move together.
‘So one of the things that I know that colleagues will be wanting to do is to ensure that we distribute vaccines at cost around the world – make sure everybody gets the vaccines that they need so that the whole world can come through this pandemic together.’
Other world leaders, including US President Joe Biden, got behind the Prime Minister, and as well as vowing to redouble their efforts in vaccine distribution, agreed to donate $7.5billion (£5.3billion) to Covax.
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