Vaccinate Africa or it will be a matter of time until a Covid-19 variant comes back to haunt the West.
That’s the stark warning from Gordon Brown who is leading a push for more doses to be sent to poorer countries.
The former Prime Minister called for an urgent meeting of the G7 to discuss how to get better coverage in less developed nations.
As well as having higher vaccination rates, higher income countries also have huge vaccine stockpiles.
By the end of October, there will be about 500 million unused vaccines in Europe and North America, Mr Brown said.
Speaking on Sky’s Trevor Phillips on Sunday, he added: ‘70% of the west has been vaccinated, only 2% in Africa and the other low-income countries of the world. So, 98% are unprotected.
‘It’s bad for them, it’s bad for us, because the disease will come back to haunt us from Africa and hurt even the fully vaccinated here with new variants.’
He called on world leaders to redirect surplus supply to countries who need it, calling the ‘divide between vaccine-rich and vaccine-poor’ countries a ‘terrible stain’.
Mr Brown said: ‘It’s a moral failure on the part of the whole of the world.’
Of the twenty countries with the lowest share of their population fully vaccinated, 18 out of 20 are in Africa, along with Haiti and Vanuatu.
When adjusted for population, the Democratic Republic of the Congo is the least vaccinated country on earth, with less than 0.02% of the population having received two doses.
Writing in the Daily Mirror, Mr Brown demanded an urgent political response from world leaders.
He said: ‘They have the money to pay for vaccines to be sent to Africa. Who lives and who dies is in their hands.
‘And they can switch delivery contracts and transfer vaccine orders from the west to Africa.
‘Unless they make the ‘life’ decision to vaccinate the whole world, they will condemn countless more to preventable deaths, let Covid spread uninhibited in the poorest parts of the world and allow it to come back to haunt us all – even the fully vaccinated.
‘It’s time to act to end what has become a moral outrage and we must act now.’
At the beginning of August, the WHO called for booster programmes to be delayed until at least the end of September to priorities getting doses into poorer countries.
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