The UK will donate nine million doses of the Oxford/AstraZeneca Covid vaccine in an attempt to stem rising Covid infections around the world.
This is the first tranche of 100 million doses that the UK has pledged to donate internationally, with the first doses expected to leave the country this week.
The UK will give four million doses directly to countries in need, and will also provide five million doses to COVAX – the international alliance for global vaccine distribution.
Countries that will be first to receive UK-donated vaccines include Indonesia, which will receive 600,000 doses; Jamaica, receiving 300,000 doses; and Kenya, which will be supplied with 817,000 doses, the Government said.
COVAX meanwhile uses an equitable allocation system for urgent distribution of vaccines to lower-income countries, it added.
Health secretary Sajid Javid said: ‘This is a global pandemic and Covid-19 vaccines are the best way to protect people and prevent the emergence of new variants. We want to make sure developing countries can build a wall of defence against the virus as we have in the UK through our vaccine rollout.
‘The UK is one of the largest donors to COVAX and this donation is part of our pledge to send 100 million vaccines to some of the world’s poorest countries.’
He said this comes as the Government ‘has secured enough doses for all UK residents, crown dependencies and overseas territories to support our ongoing vaccination programme and booster programme’.
Foreign secretary Dominic Raab said: ‘The UK is sending nine million doses of AstraZeneca vaccine, the first batch of the 100 million doses we’ve pledged, to get the most vulnerable parts of the world vaccinated as a matter of urgency.
‘We’re doing this to help the most vulnerable, but also because we know we won’t be safe until everyone is safe.’
The donated doses are made by Oxford Biomedica in Oxford and packaged in Wrexham, North Wales.
Of the 100 million doses to be donated, 80% will go via COVAX and the remainder via direct bilateral agreement with other countries.
To date these also include Antigua and Barbuda, Belize, Cambodia, Guyana, Indonesia, Jamaica, Kenya, Laos, Malaysia, Philippines, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Thailand and Vietnam, which will receive up to four million doses.
The news comes as Pulse revealed today that more than 40% of GPs in England say their practices either broke even or made a financial loss by taking part in the first phase of the Covid-19 vaccination programme.