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World News

Christian Aid backs former PM Gordon Brown who said our failure to provide vaccines to poorer nations was a 'stain on our soul'

by Donna Birrell

The failure of wealthy nations to vaccinate the world is a 'stain on our soul' according to the former Prime Minister Gordon Brown. 

He's been a vocal advocate of the need for countries with plentiful supplies of vaccines to donate them to poorer nations who are struggling to protect their populations from Coronavirus.

The UK, European Union, and the US have received more vaccines doses in the last six weeks than African countries have in the whole of 2021.

The People's Vaccine Alliance has also accused pharmaceutical companies Pfizer and Moderna of refusing to share vaccine technology with poorer countries.

Fionna Smyth is Head of Global Policy and Advocacy at Christian Aid. She tells Premier she agrees with Mr Brown's comments.

“I think that this is an incredibly important issue, particularly at this Christmas time. I think that Gordon Brown has shown really consistent leadership in the statements he's made around vaccine equity. The world's failure to vaccinate the world is a great moral failure. In the UK, everyone has had access to not one, not two, but three vaccines each. Yet, at the same time, 90% of African health workers remain unprotected, with some countries vaccinating less than 1% of their population. 

“I think that this is basically the great structural inequalities of the world writ large, when we see who can and who can't get vaccinated. A ‘stain on our soul’ is such a powerful statement, but one which really lands this Christmas time.”

Nearly nine billion Covid vaccine doses have been administered worldwide, but just five nations in Africa are expected to hit the 40 percent goal of vaccination, with the majority of countries on the continent falling far below the 20 percent mark.

Fionna Smyth says 600,000 doses of the Astrazeneca vaccine, which could have been distributed were destroyed after expiring in August. 

“It's absolutely horrible. It’s such a waste when we know that there are people in the developing world that have got no access to vaccines. Not only is it just wrong, it's also really, really counterproductive if we want to actually end this pandemic for good and allow the world to open up and be able to continue.

“It’s a real failure of leadership, people aren't standing up, and even delivering on the promises that they have made. I think that's just really sad and it really shows a lack of respect.”

The World Health Organisation said this week there should be 70% coverage with COVID-19 vaccines in all countries as a global imperative. 

It’s urging all nations to work with ‘considerable urgency’ to optimize the strategic use of the growing vaccine supply. 

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