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UK to donate 1m Covid vaccines to poorer countries

Boris Johnson says the UK will start donating coronavirus vaccines to poorer countries in the next few weeks.

More than 100 million surplus doses will be delivered in the next year, he announced ahead of the G7 summit.

Five million doses will be given by the UK by the end of September, with 25 million more by the end of the year.

The prime minister 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.”

He said he hoped his fellow leaders at the summit in Carbis Bay, Cornwall, which starts on Friday, would “make similar pledges so that, together, we can vaccinate the world by the end of next year”.

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The World Health Organization said infections had been rising in the past three weeks across Africa.

“Forty-seven of Africa’s 54 countries – nearly 90% – are set to miss the September target of vaccinating 10% of their people unless Africa receives 225m more doses,” it said.

“At 32m doses, Africa accounts for under 1% of the over 2.1bn doses administered globally. Just 2% of the continent’s nearly 1.3 billion people have received one dose and only 9.4 million Africans are fully vaccinated.”

Speaking to the BBC, vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi agreed that even with the G7 donation pledges “fundamentally, there’s a shortage” to vaccinate everyone and called on manufacturers to scale up production across the world.

He also said no-one in the UK would have to wait longer for a vaccine because of the country’s contribution to the global effort.

He added that the UK was on track to offer all those aged over 50 – who had already had a first jab – a second dose by 21 June.

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