‘Proud’ Brexit Britain at forefront of protecting citizens across globe from COVID-19

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Simon Manley, Britain’s Ambassador to the World Trade Organisation (WTO) also urged the WTO to find ways to make it easier to ensure the sufficient flow of COVID-19 vaccines, technologies and supplies across the world. The UK’s permanent representative in Geneva further made clear that “no one is safe” from coronavirus until “we are all safe”.

 

In a speech to the WTO General Council, he added: “We have broken new ground in the fight against this pandemic, especially in approving and distributing vaccines to those most in need.

“We are proud as the UK, to be at the forefront of those efforts to protect people across the globe from the virus.”

The latest figures from the Government show that 35.6 million first doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been given in the UK, with a further 18 million second doses as of yesterday.

UK Government officials have placed orders for 517million doses, but only 160m are needed to vaccinate all adults and give them booster jabs in the autumn.

With a surplus supply, UNICEF has claimed the UK could share 20 percent of its available coronavirus vaccines with poorer countries and still be able to protect its own citizens.

Analysis by the United Nations Children’s Fund said the UK could have enough doses to fully vaccinate 50m people, the population of Spain or South Korea.

Joanna Rea, director of Advocacy at UNICEF UK, said: “The UK has done a fantastic job in rolling out Covid vaccines to more than half of its adult population and we should all be proud of what has been achieved.

“However, we can’t ignore that the UK and other G7 countries have purchased over a third of the world’s vaccine supply, despite making up only 13 percent of the global population – and we risk leaving low-income countries behind.

“Unless the UK urgently starts sharing its available doses to ensure others around the world are protected from the virus, the UK will not be safe from Covid. 

“Our vaccine rollout success could be reversed and the NHS could be fighting another wave of the virus due to deadly mutations.” 

It comes after Professor Chris Whitty, chief medical officer for England said the way to prevent or minimise the number of new variants is to “get on top of” the pandemic globally. 

The World Health Organisation also said there was a “shocking disparity” in access to COVID-19 vaccines between rich and poor countries.

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But Mr Manley stressed the UK was one of the biggest donors to helping to deliver vaccine supplies across the world.

He added: “We are a founding donor to the ACT Accelerator, and we have made one of the largest commitments to the COVAX Advance Market Commitment for low and middle-income countries, with commitments to those ACT-A partners of over $1 billion [US dollars].

“And of course we are proud that a UK vaccine, developed by my own alma mater of Oxford University and produced by AstraZeneca, is at the heart of this response.”

A UK Government source added: “Brexit Britain is certainly at the forefront of helping to tackle COVID-19 pandemic globally, we are helping through various channels through collaboration and teamwork.”

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