UK to begin global vaccine rollout to Commonwealth, Asian nationsWednesday, July 28, 2021
LONDON, United (AFP) — Britain announced Wednesday it would begin donating millions of coronavirus vaccine doses around the world, including Commonwealth countries, following its pledge to provide 100 million jabs globally by next June.
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said the rollout of an initial nine million inoculations from Friday would go to Kenya, Jamaica and several Asian nations.
"They will go to countries, vulnerable places like Laos and Cambodia, partners like Indonesia, Malaysia (and) a range of Commonwealth countries from Kenya to Jamaica," he said.
"This demonstrates we're not just doing it because it's in our own interest. It shows global Britain as a life-saving force for good in the world."
Britain has committed to sharing 100 million COVID-19 vaccine shots by the middle of 2022, with 30 million to be sent by the end of the year.
Around 80 per cent of the contribution is set to go through the Covax programme — which aims to ensure fair distribution of jabs — and the rest directly to individual countries.
- 'We are sharing' -
During the early stages of distribution, five million doses are being offered to Covax. It will distribute them to lower-income countries in "an equitable allocation system which prioritises delivering vaccines to people who most need them," the UK foreign office said.
Another four million doses will be shared directly with countries in need, with Indonesia to receive 600,000 doses and Jamaica sent 300,000.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson will agree an initial offer of 817,000 doses for Kenya when he meets President Uhuru Kenyatta on Wednesday.
The pair are due to host a fundraising summit in London on Thursday focused on global education efforts attended by other world leaders, business, charity, education and youth representatives.
Around half of the donated AstraZeneca vaccine doses will be dispatched to Nairobi this week, Downing Street said ahead of the meetings.
"As friends and allies, we are sharing UK vaccine doses to support Kenya's fight against the pandemic," Johnson added in a statement.
These commitments stem from G7 pledges unveiled at the UK-hosted summit in June to provide at least one billion doses internationally through sharing and financing schemes.
The United States has said it will donate 500 million jabs to 92 poorer nations, while European Union members have agreed to donate at least 100 million by the end of 2021.
- IMF growth boost -
Richer countries, in particular Britain, have faced criticism for failing to start donating to poorer countries, which are lagging far behind in their vaccination drives.
The UK has fully jabbed more than 70 per cent of adults, and the government lifted all remaining pandemic curbs on day-to-day life in England last week.
Daily infection rates in Britain appear to be in decline — boosting hopes of a strong economic recovery.
The International Monetary Fund on Tuesday forecast that Britain's economy would grow by seven per cent this year — the joint fastest alongside the United States of the G7 nations.
But the IMF also warned that the uneven distribution of vaccines was widening disparities, as rich countries pick up speed and leave developing nations behind.
The 54-nation Commonwealth, of which Kenya, Jamaica and Malaysia are members, has called for vaccine rollouts to be speeded up in small states, warning of the economic fallout of the virus in the Caribbean, Pacific and Indian Ocean regions.
In 2020, member states lost up to US$345 billion in trade as the pandemic triggered a global economic slump, it announced last week.
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