Covid vaccine inequality across world is getting worse, says Gordon Brown

Former UK PM says it is 'short-sighted' for rich countries to vaccinate only their own citizens

Former British prime minister Gordon Brown. PA
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Vaccine inequality is getting worse as people become complacent about Covid-19, former prime minister Gordon Brown has said.

Mr Brown repeated his call for governments to share the burden of funding vaccines, treatments, testing and personal protection equipment around the world.

He told an Oxfam podcast that it was “short-sighted to take such a narrow view of national self-interest” in which rich countries vaccinate only their own citizens.

This would prolong a “mutating crisis” that could cost them trillions of pounds in loss of trade, economic activities, companies failing and jobs, Mr Brown said.

“This will bite back even those countries that have a big vaccination programme,” he said.

He criticised the fact that vaccination rates in rich countries stand at 75 per cent, compared with 11 per cent across Africa.

“We need a vaccine patent waiver and technology transfer," Mr Brown said. "What’s happened in Africa is as bad as what happened under colonial rule.

“Africa has been deprived of vaccines but also of the ability to manufacture its own vaccines, because it does not have the patents to do so.”

Mr Brown said the most urgent and immediate priority in tackling Covid-19, and sending more vaccines to people especially in developing countries, was money.

“People are dying now because we can’t get enough vaccines and equipment and therapeutics to them quickly enough," he said. "We have to solve the problem now and that requires proper funding.

“People have become complacent about Covid. Our global health funds are fast running out of money. Vaccine inequity is getting worse.”

Updated: February 11, 2022, 12:01 AM