The UK’s former prime minister Gordon Brown has accused the world of “moral failure” with poor countries struggling to procure supplies of Covid-19 vaccines.
Western countries are hoarding about 300 million doses while only 70 million people in Africa have so far been vaccinated, he said in an article for the Sunday Mirror newspaper.
He said that the West would have about one billion surplus doses by the end of the year even if every European and American adult had a booster shot and all children aged over 12 were injected.
"We are in a new 'arms' race – to get vaccines into people as quickly as possible – but this is an arms race where the West have a stranglehold on the vaccine supplies," said the former prime minister, who served from 2007 to 2010.
“The result is that whilst 70 per cent have been immunised here, just two per cent have been in Africa, leaving even millions of nurses and health workers unprotected.”
“Already vaccines have saved 80,000 lives in the UK but denying vaccines – that are surplus here – to poor countries is a stain on the world’s conscience and represents a catastrophic moral failure in international co-operation.”
Mr Brown called on US President Joe Biden and other leaders of the G7 group of wealthy nations to urgently ship vaccines to Africa.
He said their grip on stocks was stopping Covax, the global vaccination initiative, from delivering two billion doses to poorer countries this year.
Mr Brown on Sunday told broadcaster Sky that the failure to spread vaccines around the world “will come back to haunt us from Africa” and hurt even the fully vaccinated with new variants.
"It's a moral failure on the part of the whole of the world,” he said.