Covid vaccines: Boris Johnson urged by MPs to share jabs with poorer nations

A cross-party group of more than 100 MPs and peers wrote to the PM calling for Britain to export more jabs to poorer countries

More than 100 MPs and peers wrote to Boris Johnson asking him to commit to a 'one in, one out' vaccines policy (Getty Images)

Boris Johnson has been urged by MPs to provide more Covid jabs for poorer countries in order to prevent new virus variants preventing the UK’s lockdown being lifted.

A cross-party group of more than 100 MPs and peers wrote to the PM asking him to show “global leadership” by committing to a “one in, one out” vaccines policy.

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The signatories have called on Mr Johnson’s government to donate a dose to the United Nations-backed Covax scheme, which is giving jabs to low and middle-income countries.

It comes as the World Health Organisation, International Monetary Fund, World Bank Group and World Trade Organisation warned of a “dangerous gap” in the availability of jabs, with low-income nations receiving “less than 1% of vaccines administered so far”.

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‘Urgent demand for vaccines around the world’

In a letter seen by the PA news agency, the parliamentarians – including former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Carey and Tory ex-health minister Dr Dan Poulter – warned Mr Johnson: “The longer we wait to act, the more likely it is that dangerous variants could emerge that can evade the protections offered by current vaccines.”

Other signatories include former shadow chancellor John McDonnell, former archbishop of Canterbury Lord Carey, Margaret Thatcher’s former health minister Baroness Hooper, former Green Party leader Caroline Lucas and former Liberal Democrat leader Lord Campbell.

The letter added: "The UK has an opportunity to use the G7 summit to show leadership on this critical issue and demonstrate that 'global Britain' is more than just a slogan.

"While the UK has rightly committed funding to Covax, we remain a net importer of Covid-19 vaccines.

"The APPG on coronavirus, therefore, recommends that the UK must immediately adopt a policy of vaccine matching, in which for each dose of the vaccine imported, one dose is donated to Covax.

"This will help meet the urgent demand for vaccines in low and middle-income countries around the world.

"The UK mustn't miss the opportunity provided by the G7 summit to lead the way in promoting more equitable global access to Covid-19 vaccines."

Government advisers urge ministers to delay scrapping restrictions

More than 39 million people in the UK have been given a first vaccine dose and a further 25.5 million have had both.

Despite the vaccine rate, Government advisers have urged ministers to apply the brakes and delay scraping all restrictions in little under three weeks’ time due to an uptick in recent cases.

On Monday, 3,383 lab-confirmed cases were confirmed in the UK – the sixth day in a row that 3,000 or more cases had been recorded.

One further death was reported within 28 days of a positive coronavirus test, according to Government data.

Environment Secretary George Eustice, asked about the possibility of a delay to freedom from restrictions, told the BBC that ministers “can’t rule anything out”.

Professor Ravi Gupta, a member of the New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group (Nervtag), said with the UK in the grip of an “early” third wave of Covid-19 infections, the Government should consider pushing back the June 21 target “by a few weeks” to allow more people to receive both vaccine doses.

He said: “If you look at the costs and benefits of getting it wrong, I think it is heavily in favour of delay.”

But Professor Read, a member of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) which advises the Government on vaccine priority, denied Britain had entered a third wave, suggesting “we’re not quite at that stage”.

Striking a more optimistic tone about the prospect of the Prime Minister being able to deliver on his road map, he told BBC Radio 4’s PM it was “quite possible that the Government could move to full reopening” as vaccines were proving “very effective” against the Indian mutation.