Covid-19
World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Ghebreyesus.

UK and Italian leaders must hold an emergency summit before the UN General Assembly to end vaccine inequality and send more Covid-19 vaccines to Africa and other low-income nations, former British prime minister Gordon Brown has said.

Mr Brown appealed to US President Joe Biden, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Italian counterpart Mario Draghi, chair of the Group of 20 wealthy nations, to hold the summit before September when world leaders will take part in the UN’s General Assembly.

The former UK leader has been leading a push for rich countries to share more of the cost of vaccinating people in developing countries, many of which have low inoculation rates and surging cases of COVID-19.

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,” his statement reads in part.

He added that “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.”

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The leaders of the G7 which include the US, Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy and Japan agreed in June to provide one billion doses of vaccines to poor countries by the end of 2022.

However, Mr Brown said most of those would not be delivered to Africa, where less than two per cent 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.

Initially, New Global Dashboard on Covid-19 Equity noted with concern that vaccine inequity will have a lasting and profound impact on socio-economic recovery in low- and lower-middle income countries without urgent action to boost supply and assure equitable access for every country, including through dose sharing.

“Vaccine inequity is the world’s biggest obstacle to ending this pandemic and recovering from COVID-19,” said Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organization. “Economically, epidemiologically and morally, it is in all countries’ best interest to use the latest available data to make lifesaving vaccines available to all.”

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