The booster rollout has begun in the UK – but Labour former PM Gordon Brown warns failure to send vaccines to poorer countries will ‘come back to haunt even the fully vaccinated in Britain’
Image: WALES NEWS SERVICE)
Boris Johnson has said that booster jabs for elderly and vulnerable Brits should be prioritised over sending more vaccines to poorer countries.
Covid boosters will be offered to all over-50s and those at greatest risk of the disease as part of the “toolbox” of measures for controlling Covid cases as we go into winter.
The UK has pledged to donate 100 million vaccines overseas by June 2022, 80 million of which will go to the Covax scheme.
But the World Health Organisation wants to speed up the delivery of vaccines across the world with a bid to jab 70% of the globe by the end of 2022.
Critics – including Labour former PM Gordon Brown – have argued that it is not enough to help protect the world’s most vulnerable people.
However, talking to reporters on the plane to the US, Mr Johnson said: “Should we interrupt the booster programme for elderly and vulnerable people in this country?
“Well I’ve looked at the evidence for what boosters can do, I’ve looked at the extra protection it can give people, and I have to say I think that that has to be our priority”.
The PM insisted the UK would still make a “massive commitment” to the rest of the world because “we fundamentally agree that nobody’s safe until everybody is.
But Mr Brown warned that failing to get jabs to Africa and other poorer nations would “come back to haunt even the fully vaccinated in Britain” as the virus could mutate.
He told Sky News that only 2% of Africa and only 2% of low-income countries are vaccinated.
He said: “It’s in our interests in Britain that they are vaccinated because the disease will spread in Africa, it will mutate and there will be new variants, it will come back to haunt even the fully vaccinated in Britain unless we take action.
“We’ve been stockpiling vaccines, we’ve got a mountain of vaccines in America and in Europe, they’re not going to be used even when we do the boosters and the 12 to 15-year-olds.
“There are still millions of vaccines left over and we’ve got to get them to the rest of the world, otherwise they are going to pass their use-by date and expire, and be of no use to anybody, and all of us hate waste.”
More than 1.5 million people in England have been sent invitations for their booster jab this week under Government plans to battle the virus this winter.
People will start receiving texts from today, while letters will be sent to those who are eligible later in the week.
The over-50s, care home residents, NHS and care staff, and the clinically vulnerable are all on the list for boosters.
The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) – who advise the Government on Covid jabs – said people should have their booster at least six months after their second jab when experts think immunity will begin to wane.
Pfizer is recommended for the third dose – regardless of which vaccine was originally given – but half doses of Moderna can also be used.
Care home residents in Scotland and Wales have started receiving booster jabs this week.