Former prime minister Gordon Brown has hit out at Boris Johnson for promises on vaccinating the world.
Brown said a failure to send unused Covid-19 vaccines to developing countries would be “criminal” negligence and said wasting vaccines would be the “biggest public policy failure for years” during peacetime.
Speaking on Sky News, Brown said: “Boris Johnson promised at the G7 that he was going to vaccinate the whole world.
“He made this bold announcement that, by next year, everybody would be vaccinated who was an adult in the developing world as well as the developed world.
Targets ‘on track to be missed’
“But since then, so little has happened that we now face the possibility of every target being missed.
“10 per cent by September: missed. 40 per cent by December: likely to be missed. 70 per cent by next year: likely to be missed.
“So we’ve got to take action immediately to use these unused vaccines to save lives.
“One hundred thousand lives have been saved in Britain because of 100 million vaccines. How many more lives can be saved in the rest of the world if we get these vaccines to people who need them?”
Brown has also criticised Johnson for reportedly missing a meeting held by US president Joe Biden to discuss vaccines sent to developing countries.
In response, Downing Street source told the PA news agency that the Johnson did miss his speaking slot, but that it was because the meeting was running late and he was due to attend a wreath-laying event at Arlington Cemetery in Washington DC.
EU suggested the UK was ‘keeping vaccines to itself’
Earlier this year, European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen has praised the EU’s vaccines contribution to the world – whilst hinting that countries such as the UK are keeping them to themselves.
In a video conference in May, von der Leyen said: “Europe achieved this success, while remaining open to the world.
“While others keep their vaccine production for themselves, Europe is the main exporter of vaccines worldwide.
“To be clear, Europe is the only democratic region in the world that exports vaccines on a large scale.”
A month later, a cross-party group of MPs said that Boris Johnson’s pledge to vaccinate the rest of the world is “too little too late” by the end of 2022 – and he must make a “concrete commitment” to donate spare Covid doses to poorer countries.
Lib Dem MP Layla Moran, Chair of the APPG on Coronavirus, said “simply pledging to vaccinate the world by the end of next year risks being too little too late” whilst Tory MP and group vice-chair Dr Dan Poulter said the UK government “simply cannot afford to ignore the humanitarian disaster unfolding in low-income countries”.