An extra 100 million Covid-19 jabs will be given to the world by the UK, Boris Johnson has announced as part of a drive to vaccinate the globe by the end of 2022.
The 100 million doses will be distributed over the next year, with five million issued by October and 25 million sent out by the end of 2021.
It is part of a new push by the G7 world leaders at their summit in Cornwall to collectively give away a billion doses of Covid-19 vaccines to other countries.
America alone is giving 500 million. Leaders from the other nations present – Italy, Canada, France, Germany and Japan – are expected to announce their own new commitments.
It is an acknowledgement that the world will only be truly safe from Covid-19 once vaccines are available the globe over, given the risk of new variants emerging.
Currently, developing countries are lagging far behind the richest nations in the proportion of their populations getting jabbed, leading to calls for more vaccine charity.
The UK’s doses will be drawn from its supply of Oxford-AstraZeneca, Pfizer-BioNTech, Janssen and Moderna vaccines, as well as any others approved for use in the future.
The announcement will likely be welcomed as a step in the right direction, coming after weeks of pressure from leading world bodies and former political leaders for more generosity.
Recorded supply received by country to date
However there is not yet an announcement from vaccine makers to fully suspend jab patents to boost supply in poorer countries – a call heard prominently in recent months.
World leaders will during the Cornwall gathering over the coming days discuss ways to expand vaccine supply and urge jab makers to provide their doses at cost.
Mr Johnson said: “As a result of the success of the UK’s vaccine programme we are now in a position to share some of our surplus doses with those who need them. In doing so we will take a massive step towards beating this pandemic for good.
“At the G7 Summit I hope my fellow leaders will make similar pledges so that, together, we can vaccinate the world by the end of next year and build back better from coronavirus.”
The spending goes beyond the £10 billion Britain has already committed to spend in foreign aid, in what could be seen as an olive branch to Tory MPs rebelling on aid spending.
Dozens of Conservative MPs, including former prime minister Theresa May, have been fiercely critical of the Government abandoning a pledge to spend 0.7 per cent of Gross National Income on foreign aid. Instead the Government is spending 0.5 per cent.
Dominic Raab, the Foreign Secretary, said in an interview with The Telegraph that the announcement of the new vaccine giveaway showed the UK’s generosity on aid spending.
He said: “The 0.5 per cent is, of course, written in law as our target. We always aim to hit it, but we’re not going to be restrained when, in a case like this, there’s an absolute imperative for I think the British interest, but also the global interest, in doing a bit extra and leading by example.
“This is the G7 where we hold the presidency, I think it’s important we lead by example. And if we’re going to get everyone vaccinated by the end of 2022, we need to be able to cajole, not just convene, and in order to do that, we need to lead by example.”
Around 80 per cent of the new doses will be given away through the Covid-19 Vaccines Global Access, dubbed Covax. The rest will be shared directly by the UK with other countries.