An “unconscionable” 100m stockpiled COVID vaccines will expire in rich countries by Christmas while poorer nations are starved of supplies, reports The Independent.
The research also suggests a further million deaths from the pandemic by next summer, amid a lack of ventilators and oxygen, the data group Airfinity found.
The study has been endorsed by former UK president Gordon Brown, who has sent it to Joe Biden ahead of the US president leading a UN jabs summit on Wednesday (22 September) to spur him to avoid “a vaccine waste disaster” as “use by” dates pass.
Brown has been appointed an ambassador by the World Health Organisation (WHO) to drive forward better global action on public health. He said: “It is unthinkable and unconscionable that 100m vaccines will have to be thrown away from the stockpiles of the rich countries, while the populations of the worldʼs poorest countries will pay for our vaccine waste in lives lost.”
The warning comes after the UK joined other Western nations in stepping up jabs for its own population, with an autumn booster campaign for over-50s.
Boris Johnson has promised to share 100m doses with developing countries from the UKʼs vaccine stocks – but only 9m have been sent so far.
Airfinity said its research predicted no shortage of jabs – with 7bn vaccines available worldwide by the end of this month, rising to 12bn by December.
Brown called for a target to vaccinate 40% of citizens in the poorest countries by December, meaning 2.3bn doses need to be transferred. He also called for the swopping of delivery contracts so that Covax, the agency for bulk purchasing of vaccines, and the African agency AVAT, receive them much earlier.
“Wednesdayʼs summit must decide whether countries will swop delivery contracts, how regulatory barriers to vaccine exports can be overcome and who will underwrite the costs if stockpiled vaccines are to be used before they expire,” he said.
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