Former prime minister Gordon Brown is stepping up calls for an emergency summit to tackle the “scandal” of millions of people in low-income countries being denied a Covid vaccine.
He published a report based on data from research agency Airfinity, which claimed Western nations were “hoarding” nearly 300 million vaccines Brown said could be saving lives in countries such as those in Africa.
By the end of October, the unused vaccines stockpile – those stored or not contracted for delivery – will be 500 million, large enough to put African and poor-country vaccination programmes back on track, said Brown.
Airfinity said that by Christmas, the Western vaccines “mountain” will reach one billion, even if every British, European and American adult receives a booster and all over 12s were to be injected.
“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,” said Brown.
“The result is that 70% of adults have been immunised in the West, but only 2% in Africa and low-income countries, leaving millions of their nurses and health workers unprotected.
“Already vaccines have saved 80,000 lives in the UK but denying vaccines – that are surplus to requirements here – to poor countries is a stain on the world’s conscience and represents a catastrophic moral failure in international co-operation.”
Brown said it was in everyone’s interest to help Africa prevent the Covid disease mutating.
He added: “What was once an understandable shortage of supply is becoming an inexplicable failure to secure equitable distribution.
“I am calling on President Biden to convene an emergency G7 vaccines summit to end the scandal that is denying millions denied vaccines that could save their lives.
“I am calling for the summit to agree a comprehensive plan to send unused vaccines to Africa and low-income countries and transfer the delivery contracts they have made with the pharmaceutical companies to Africa and low-income countries.
“Stockpiling in the West also means many vaccines are in danger of being wasted. Hoarded for too long and released to poor countries too close to their ‘use by’ dates, many of these vaccines may be wasted, arriving too late to be effective.”