EU 'set off ugly trend of vaccine nationalism' says host
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The former prime minister said it was shocking only 1.8 percent of the population of African countries had received two Covid jabs, compared to 50 percent of the EU, US and UK. Attacking the European Commission, he said Brussels was “dividing the world into rich and protected people, who live, and those who are poor, unprotected and at risk of dying”.
Mr Brown is calling on Prime Minister Boris Johnson, the current G7 president, to co-ordinate a special summit with Italy’s Mario Draghi, who is presiding over the G20, to discuss Africa’s vaccine deficit.
The Scotsman said global coordination could see 60 percent of adults in every country given a jab by next summer.
As it stands it is already set to 2023 until all adults on the African continent have been offered an injection.
He blamed Brussels’ “vaccine nationalism” for the delays.
He added many countries in Africa were now turning to China to plead for help with more jabs after feeling betrayed by the West.
Giving an example, the ex-Labour leader accused the European Commission of demanding all Johnson & Johnson jabs manufactured in South Africa be shipped to Europe.
It was only after South African president Cyril Ramaphosa threatened to implement a vaccine export ban that the Commission backed down.
It has now been agreed all Johnson & Johnson made in South Africa can stay in the continent from October.
Writing in The Guardian, Mr Brown warned the actions of the EU risked undermining the success of vaccinations so far.
He said until the whole world had been inoculated there was still a chance of mutations of the virus, including new strains that are unaffected by the jabs.
He said: “Ensuring African populations have access to vaccines is not just an imperative for Africa.
“It’s in all our enlightened self-interest.
“As Britain’s leading vaccine scientist Sarah Gilbert has said, the biggest threat we all face is Covid spreading and mutating uninhibited in unvaccinated countries.
“We must keep reminding ourselves of the reason for ensuring the mass vaccination of the entire world: no one is safe anywhere until everyone is safe everywhere, and everyone will live in fear until nobody does.”
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Mr Brown is not the first to attack the EU for vaccine nationalism.
Earlier this year the bloc introduced vaccine export licences, threatening to stop the export of vaccines.
In March Italy blocked the export of 250,000 Oxford-AstraZeneca jabs heading to Australia.
As well as preparing to ban exports of EU made vaccines around the world, and demanding jabs manufacturers in South Africa be sent to Europe, the bloc also made threats to derail the UK’s inoculation programme at the start of the year.
Following a row with AstraZeneca over its contract, Brussels demanded jabs Mae in the UK planned for distribution domestically be sent overseas.
It threatened to block off the UK’s supply of Pfizer jabs unless it caved.
European Commission executive Vice President Valdis Dombrovskis has previously hit back at claims of EU vaccine nationalism.
He said in March: “We think it is highly unfair to accuse the EU, which is one of the largest vaccine exporters, of vaccine nationalism.”
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