Former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said this week that a vaccine summit hosted by US President Joe Biden must come up with a plan to transfer 100 million stockpiled COVID-19 vaccines to poorer countries before they expire.
On the margins of the United Nations General Assembly on Wednesday, Biden will convene a virtual COVID-19 summit aimed at increasing vaccinations globally with the goal of ending the pandemic by the end of 2022.
Brown said he had sent Biden and other G7 leaders research by Airfinity, a scientific information and analytics company, that found 100 million COVID-19 vaccines stockpiled in rich northern hemisphere countries would expire without being used by December.
Only 2% of the world’s 5.7 billion doses of coronavirus vaccines have been administered in Africa.
“We need a plan to get vaccines out there quickly,” Brown, Britain’s finance minister for a decade before becoming prime minister from 2007 to 2010, said in a statement.
“It will be a profound and collective political tragedy if this summit misses the opportunity to act with doses transferred immediately to poorer countries,” he said.
The Airfinity data predicts that, without a speed-up in the vaccine roll-out, there will be 100 million more COVID-19 cases by next summer and one million more deaths from lack of ventilators and oxygen.
“It is unthinkable and unconscionable that 100 million vaccines will have to be thrown away from the stockpiles of the rich countries whilst the populations of the world’s poorest countries will pay for our vaccine waste in lives lost,” Brown said.
Brown urged leaders to decide whether countries should swap delivery contracts, how to overcome regulatory barriers to vaccine exports, and who would pay for the costs of using stockpiled vaccines.
“No one is safe anywhere until everyone is safe everywhere,” he said, adding that “it is in everyone’s interest everywhere that President Biden and his fellow G7 leaders do whatever it takes… to eradicate COVID in every corner of our globe.”