| 3 February 2023, Friday |

Emergency vaccine summit needed to help Africa, says UK’s ex-PM Brown

Former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown suggested the United States, the United Kingdom, and Italy must hold an emergency conference before the United Nations General Assembly to end vaccine inequity and provide more vaccines to Africa and other low-income countries.

Brown, who served as Prime Minister from 2007 to 2010, has led a drive for wealthy countries to pay a greater portion of the expense of immunizing people in poorer countries, many of which have low vaccination rates and rising instances.

He urged US President Joe Biden, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, and Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi, chair of the Group of 20 wealthy nations, to conduct the summit before the United Nations General Assembly in September.

He urged world leaders to break the “stranglehold” on vaccinations that affluent countries with abundant supply have on Africa and other low-income countries, and to assist Africa and other low-income countries with funding and logistics.

“Their leadership can ensure finance to build African manufacturing capacity for the longer term and unblock the barriers to African purchases of vaccines now and over the next year,” Brown said in a statement on Monday.

“Only intervention at the highest level by Joe Biden, Boris Johnson and the current chair of the G20, Mario Draghi, at a global vaccine summit in the next month can end this vaccine inequality that shames the world.”

The leaders of the Group of Seven advanced economies – the United States, Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy and Japan – agreed in June to provide 1 billion doses to poorer countries by the end of 2022.

But Brown said most of those would not be delivered to Africa, where less than 2% of people have been fully vaccinated, until next year.

“The biggest threat we all face comes from COVID spreading and mutating uninhibited in poor unvaccinated countries,” he said.

  • Reuters