‘Unconscionable’ 100 million Covid vaccines to go to waste in rich countries by Christmas, analysis finds

Gordon Brown urges Joe Biden to avoid ‘vaccine waste disaster’ as ‘use by’ dates expire – ahead of UN summit

Rob Merrick
Deputy Political Editor
Monday 20 September 2021 01:02
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Gordon Brown calls on G7 to supply vaccines to poor world

An “unconscionable” 100 million stockpiled Covid vaccines will expire in rich countries by Christmas while poorer nations are starved of supplies, a new analysis says.

The research also suggests a further 1 million more deaths from the pandemic by next summer, amid a lack of ventilators and oxygen, the data group Airfinity found.

The study has been endorsed by Gordon Brown, who has sent it to Joe Biden ahead of the US president leading a UN jabs summit on Wednesday – to spur him to avoid “a vaccine waste disaster” as “use by” dates pass.

Meanwhile, the former prime minister has been appointed an ambassador by the World Health Organisation (WHO) to drive forward better global action on public health.

Mr Brown said: “It is unthinkable and unconscionable that 100 million vaccines will have to be thrown away from the stockpiles of the rich countries, whilst the populations of the world’s poorest countries will pay for our vaccine waste in lives lost.

“It is will be a profound and collective political tragedy if this summit misses the opportunity to act with doses transferred immediately to poorer countries.”

The warning comes after the UK joined other Western nations in stepping up jabs for its own population, with an autumn booster campaign for over-50s.

Boris Johnson has promised to share 100 million doses with developing countries from the UK’s vast vaccine mountain – but only 9 million have been sent so far.

Airfinity said its research predicted no shortage of overall jabs – with 7 billion vaccines available across the world by the end of this month, rising to 12 billion by December.

Mr Brown called for a target to vaccinate 40 per cent of citizens in the poorest countries by December, which would require 2.3 billion doses to be transferred.

He also called for the swapping of delivery contracts so that Covax, the agency for bulk purchasing of vaccines, and the African agency AVAT receive them much earlier.

“Wednesday’s summit must decide whether countries will swap delivery contracts, how regulatory barriers to vaccine exports can be overcome and who will underwrite the costs if stockpiled vaccines are to be used before they expire,” Mr Brown said.

And he added: “Global political leaders must match the extraordinary commitment and cooperation of scientists and manufacturers who have created the opportunity to vaccinate the entire world.”

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO’s director-general, pointed to Mr Brown’s “tireless” work to share Covid vaccines equitably, in appointing him ambassador for global health financing.

“In this role, he will elevate and support WHO’s work to raise awareness internationally on the great need for sustained global health financing, particularly from G20 and G7 countries,” Dr Tedros said.

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