The countries first in line to get UK’s spare Covid vaccines
Ireland expected to front the queue as Downing Street how to share out excess jabs
Boris Johnson’s government will prioritise Ireland when handing out excess Covid vaccines once enough stocks have been secured for the UK’s jabs campaign, insider sources says.
Data from the North Carolina-based Duke Global Health Innovation Center shows that the UK has ordered a total of 367 million doses of Covid vaccines from seven developers - enough for 5.5 jabs per person.
The Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, which accounts for 100 million of the order, has been approved for use in the UK, but some of the other jabs set to bump up the nation’s stocks, including Valneva, Novavax and Janssen, have not yet got the green light from regulators.
However, a ministerial source told The Telegraph that ministers are already examining ways “to protect us and the rest of the world” by sharing doses as soon as adequate supplies for the domestic vaccination programme are assured.
If Ireland was “still experiencing shortfalls” at that stage, the government “absolutely would” hand over coronavirus vaccines to its nearest neighbour, the source said.
According to insiders, Ireland will top the jabs handout list because the Republic shares a land border with Northern Ireland, and the island as a whole is expected to be viewed by the government as a “single epidemiological unit” for the purpose of health.
Amid speculation about which other countries could get the UK’s excess jabs, a government source told Politico’s London Playbook that the view inside Downing Street is that “we have a humanitarian responsibility to help developing countries access vaccines”.
“It may well be the case in the coming months that we need to assist our friends in the EU as well,” the source said.
Secretary of State for International Trade Liz Truss yesterday told Sky News’s Sophy Ridge on Sunday that it “could well be the case” that vaccines are sent from the UK to the EU or developing countries before all adults in the UK have been vaccinated.
“It’s a bit too early to say how we would deploy vaccines, but we certainly want to work with friends and neighbours, we want to work with developing countries,” she added.
The government is arguing that only a global vaccination drive will be enough to bring the pandemic to an end. Speaking at a People’s PMQs event filmed on Sunday, the prime minister said that “the vaccination of everybody in the world… is ultimately the only way to fix this”.
His comments came as a spokesperson for the World Health Organization said that it was morally and economically “the right thing to do” for the UK to help efforts elsewhere after vaccinating top priority groups at home.