Sunday, June 06, 2021

Do as I say not as I do

 Boris Johnson says, 'Vaccinating the world by the end of next year would be the single greatest feat in medical history.

'I'm calling on my fellow G7 leaders to join us to end to this terrible pandemic and pledge will we never allow the devastation wreaked by coronavirus to happen again.'

The Prime Minister is expected to call for a stepping up of the manufacture of vaccines, lowering barriers to the international distribution of jabs and sharing surplus doses with developing countries, both bilaterally and through Covax, a World Health Organisation scheme. 

Joe Biden has already announced that the US will send 25 million doses overseas, three-quarters through the Covax aid programme and the rest directly to most-in-need countries.

Emmanuel Macron also said France would send 500,000 shots, with some already on their way to West Africa.

The UK has secured access to around 400 million jabs – far more than it is likely to need. So it surely must have more surplus vaccine to donate than a country like France. 

It its defence, the UK argues it has provided global leadership, by funding the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine and making it available at cost – rather than at a much higher price, with huge profits made. 

Health Secretary Matt Hancock last week said the UK would look to donate spare doses, in line with a Government pledge made in February, but added: 'At the moment we don't have any excess doses. We're just getting them into arms as quickly as possible.'

The vaccination success of  the UK has been attributed to the continued support for the Conservative Party. It has also lead the government to making promises of complete freedom from lockdown measures, possibly on the 21st June. However, the premise that nobody is safe until we are all safe still applies. That has been amply illustrated by the rapid spread of  the Delta variant in the UK. The UK will not be safe whilst new variants pop up in other parts of the world. 

It is understandable that Hancock would want to vaccinate everyone in the UK before donating excess doses to the world but it is hardly a good example of statecraft and world leadership. It also doesn't tie in with the statements that his boss is making. 

Is this going to be a classic case of 'do as I say not do as I do.'

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