politics

Britain donates 20m one-shot Covid jabs to poorer countries as none used in UK


Boris Johnson confirmed that millions of doses of the Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen jab will go to the COVAX scheme next year

A health worker holds a syringe with a vial of the J&J/Janssen Covid-19 vaccine
A health worker holds a syringe with a vial of the J&J/Janssen Covid-19 vaccine

Britain’s entire order of a one-shot Covid vaccine will be donated to poorer countries after none were used in the UK rollout.

All 20million doses the UK bought of Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen jab will go to the COVAX scheme next year, Boris Johnson announced.

UK regulators approved the Janssen vaccine in May, raising hopes young Brits could “jab and go” with no need for a booster.

At the time the government expected the first shots would be available in the UK “later this year”.

But it is thought none of the 20million doses have arrived in the UK yet, because the firm prioritises deliveries to countries most in need.








Boris Johnson confirmed that millions of jabs would be donated to poorer countries
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Image:

AFP via Getty Images)



All UK adults were offered a first jab by the end of July, and Janssen has not been recommended for use in the UK booster rollout.

Now the government has announced the UK’s Janssen jabs will be handed to COVAX “as soon as they come off the production line in 2022”.

G20 leaders, including Boris Johnson, will discuss vaccine donations in Rome on Saturday as pressure mounts to hand more to poorer nations.

Ex-PM Gordon Brown has accused the UK and other wealthy nations of “hoarding” Covid vaccines.

He told LBC radio: “We’re hoarding them in some countries at the moment.

“There are about 200 million vaccines that could be airlifted out tomorrow and save hundreds of thousands of lives.”

Mr Brown and more than 100 senior global ex-politicians demanded G20 leaders make an emergency transfer of extra jabs.

They said the UK, US, EU and Canada will be stockpiling 240million unused jabs in weeks, and could transfer 1.1billion by February.





In a letter, they warned rich nations must donate at least 11billion doses, despite the G7 nations pledging 1billion in June.

Boris Johnson pledged at June’s G7 summit to donate 100million doses to poorer nations – including 80million via COVAX – by June 2022.

The Janssen jabs make up a fifth of that pledge, and another 50million will be the AstraZeneca jab – half the UK’s order of AZ.

AZ’s use in the vaccine and booster rollouts was scaled back, partly due to the risk of extremely rare blood clots and partly due to a preference for mRNA jabs like Pfizer and Moderna.

But until today the UK had only donated 10.6million doses – 6.2million through COVAX and 4.4million through direct deals with poor countries.

No10 announced that it has sent another 10million AZ doses; 10million will go in “the coming weeks” and 20million will go next year.

That means the UK will have donated 30.6million doses by Christmas.








Former Prime Minister Gordon Brown said richer countries were too slow in getting vaccines to poorer nations
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Image:

PA Images)



Mr Brown said: “We’re being too slow and we’re holding back when we know we’ve got these unused vaccines.”

No10 insisted the UK does not stockpile jabs, and said Boris Johnson will urge fellow G20 leaders to “do everything in their power” to increase vaccine supplies to poorer countries.

This could include donations or by urging more pharmaceutical giants to develop jabs on a not-for-profit basis, like AstraZeneca.

The Prime Minister is expected to tell fellow leaders: “Like a waking giant, the world economy is stirring back to life.

“But the pace of recovery will depend on how quickly we can overcome Covid.

“Our first priority as the G20 must be to press ahead with the rapid, equitable and global distribution of vaccines.”


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