International humanitarian charity, Christian Aid, has warned the UK Government must join the growing international consensus and waive vaccine patents and the debt of developing countries or see more lives threatened by COVID variants.
Jennifer Larbie, UK Advocacy and Policy Lead at Christian Aid, described the Omicron COVID variant as a reminder of “the failure to rollout vaccines globally is costing lives” and called on the UK Government to agree global action ahead of hosting a summit of G7 Foreign Ministers next weekend.
Despite reports, 82 countries are set to miss the internationally agreed adult vaccination target of 40% by December. The UK has delivered just 11% of committed vaccine doses for developing countries and only this month disposed of 600,000 AZ vaccine doses after they expired.
The intervention follows the inconclusive meeting of G7 health ministers held today to discuss the Omicron COVID variant. While G7 Ministers recognised the “strategic relevance of ensuring access to vaccines”, no further commitments were made.
Jennifer Larbie, UK Advocacy and Policy Lead at Christian Aid, said:
“The Omicron COVID variant is the latest reminder that the failure to rollout vaccines globally is costing lives.
“The best way to prevent the emergence of vaccine-resistant variants of COVID-19 is by ensuring universal access to vaccines in every country. However, a lack of leadership from the UK has created a world of ‘have jabs and have nots’.
“World leaders have an obligation to remove the barriers preventing the rapid rollout of vaccines in the global south. That means urgently waiving patents, which the UK has shamefully opposed, and a comprehensive debt cancellation package.
“With the UK hosting the G7 Foreign Ministers meeting next week, the clock is ticking. The fair global distribution of vaccines isn't about charity, it is about justice and keeping promises. It is about doing what is right to protect every citizen in our global community.”