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UK urged to share vaccine supplies with Ireland and developing nations

Dr David Nabarro encouraged the UK to share excess vaccines with developing countries.

Image: SIPA USA/PA Images

Updated Feb 7th 2021, 1:05 PM

THE UK IS being urged to share its surplus vaccines with neighbouring and developing countries.

Dr David Nabarro, the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) special envoy on Covid-19, said the UK having 400 million doses of vaccine on order is “totally understandable” but that, once all over-50s in the UK have been inoculated, it should consider sharing vaccines with poorer countries.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock last week committed to being “generous around the world” with the vaccine supply in recognition that Britain has enough doses on order to vaccinate the UK population three times over.

Dr Nabarro told Sky News’ Sophy Ridge On Sunday: “At the moment politicians believe that their primary duty is to make sure they get vaccines to perhaps everybody in their countries.

“We think citizens can perhaps talk to their politicians and say ‘Wait a minute, we’re actually part of the world, we think the first priority is to make sure everybody in the world gets what they need’.”

He said 100 countries have signed up to the WHO’s vaccine-sharing Covax scheme, adding that they are “ready to receive vaccines” and there is money available to buy doses.

Sinn Féin President Mary Lou McDonald said a spirit of “generosity and solidarity” on vaccine sharing should extend globally.

She was asked on Sky News if she would like to see excess UK doses being diverted to the Irish Republic, given the slower pace of vaccine rollout in the EU.

“Certainly if there is an excess of supply in Britain and if there is a capacity for that to be shared with Ireland at some point, well, yes, of course, absolutely, the project here is to get people vaccinated,” she replied.

“This is a race against this virus and against death so, yes, I think a spirit of fairness and generosity needs to prevail in this, my goodness, above all other issues.

“So, yes, is the answer, and if the scenario were vice versa I would expect that a similar generosity would be afforded to the British people because the virus doesn’t care about politics or borders or any of these things.

“We all share the same human biology and it’s just so important that the incredible work that has been done by scientists internationally, including at Oxford University, and across the globe, that the fruits of that endeavour and knowledge and expertise is shared in the way that good science would intend, and that means keeping all of our fellow human citizens safe and alive and well.”

First doses

The first batch of Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccines arrived in Ireland yesterday.

The 21,600 jabs, which were transported from Belgium, will be given to healthcare workers from tomorrow.

Ireland is using the two other approved vaccines, from Pfizer and Moderna, to vaccinate the over-70s.

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Most over-70s will be able to get jabs at their GP surgery.

The GP practice rollout begins on Monday week, with the over-85 age group being prioritised.

A further 55 Covid-19-related deaths were confirmed yesterday, along with another 827 new confirmed cases of the virus.

As of 2pm yesterday, 1,177 patients with Covid-19 were being treated in hospital, 177 of whom were in ICU.

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