FORMER British prime minister Gordon Brown accused rich countries of committing a “moral outrage” by stockpiling COVID-19 doses while poor countries are struggling to get supplies.
Brown, who is a United Nations special envoy, called on U.S. President Joe Biden and other Group of Seven leaders to urgently ship vaccines from warehouses in America and Europe to Africa.
Western countries are hoarding nearly 300 million shots while only 70 million people in Africa have so far been vaccinated, Brown said in an opinion piece published in the Sunday Mirror newspaper, citing research by data firm Airfinity.
By Christmas, the West is set to have 1 billion surplus doses even if every European and American adult has received a booster shot and all children over 12 are injected, he said.
“We are in a new ‘arms’ race – to get vaccines into people as quickly as possible – but this is an arms race where the West have a stranglehold on the vaccine supplies,” Brown said.
The grip of rich countries on vaccine stocks was stopping Covax, the international facility for buying vaccines, from meeting its promise to send 2 billion vaccines to poorer countries this year, he added.
The stockpiling has also delayed dose-sharing by G7 countries with Africa and low-income countries, Brown said.
THE U.S. government will ship hundreds of thousands of COVID-19 vaccine doses to the African countries of Togo and Angola this weekend, a White House official has said.
The official said 188,370 doses of the vaccine made by Pfizer and Germany’s BioNTech would be sent to Togo and 586,170 doses to Angola through the COVAX global vaccine distribution program.
The doses are part of the 500 million Pfizer-BioNTech doses purchased by the U.S. government this summer for distribution to the African Union and 92 low- and lower-middle-income countries.
Scientific teams and legal and regulatory authorities from both countries have worked together to ensure the prompt delivery of vaccine lots to both countries, the official said.
In addition, the U.S. Agency for International Development has provided $1 million to help Angola carry out vaccinations, including support for health care workers, while helping the Angolan government ensure all 18 provinces had at least one ultra-cold chain unit ready to store vaccines.
USAID has also provided $500,000 to help Togo roll-out vaccinations to date, including training and supervision for health workers to safely administer vaccines, the official said.
MALTA has donated 40,000 COVID-19 vaccines to Libya, the Mediterranean island’s health minister said on Tuesday.
The vaccines were delivered on a chartered flight to the nearby north African state along with 40,000 rapid test kits.
“Malta remains committed to doing its part to support Libya in overcoming global challenges,” minister Chris Fearne said in a Facebook post.
Malta has fully vaccinated more than 80% of its population and is starting to administer a booster jab to elderly and vulnerable people.
According to the latest Reuters data, Libya has administered at least 764,233 doses of COVID vaccines so far – about 5.6% of the country’s population.
U.S., British and Italian leaders must hold an emergency summit before the U.N. General Assembly to end vaccine inequality and send more shots to Africa and other low-income nations, former British prime minister Gordon Brown said.
Brown, prime minister between 2007 and 2010, has been leading a push for richer countries to share more of the cost of vaccinating people in developing countries, many of which have low inoculation rates and rising cases.
He appealed to U.S. President Joe Biden, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi, chair of the Group of 20 wealthy nations, to hold the summit before September when world leaders will take part in the U.N.’s General Assembly.
He called for the leaders to end the “stranglehold” on vaccines of rich nations with excess supply, and for them to help Africa and other low-income countries with finance and logistics.
“Their leadership can ensure finance to build African manufacturing capacity for the longer term and unblock the barriers to African purchases of vaccines now and over the next year,” Brown said in a statement on Monday.
“Only intervention at the highest level by Joe Biden, Boris Johnson and the current chair of the G20, Mario Draghi, at a global vaccine summit in the next month can end this vaccine inequality that shames the world.”
The leaders of the Group of Seven advanced economies – the United States, Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy and Japan – agreed in June to provide 1 billion doses to poorer countries by the end of 2022.
But Brown said most of those would not be delivered to Africa, where less than 2% of people have been fully vaccinated, until next year.
“The biggest threat we all face comes from COVID spreading and mutating uninhibited in poor unvaccinated countries,” he said.