Jeremy Corbyn slams ‘rich’ countries over ‘vaccine nationalism’
In an eerie insight into what might have been Britain’s coronavirus strategy if Mr Corbyn had won the general election just over a year ago, the former Labour leader attacked the UK and others for purchasing high stocks of life-saving Covid jabs. The proud socialist said Britain and other prosperous nations should limit their supplies to help increase the number of jabs available for poorer countries across the globe.
While Mr Corbyn did not mention Boris Johnson by name or specifically point fingers at the actions of the UK Government, he criticised states which have acquired enough jabs to vaccinate their population several times over.
The UK has 357 million doses of jabs from seven different candidates on order, enough to vaccinate the UK three times over.
Launching his new Project for Peace and Justice last night, Mr Corbyn said: “Some rich countries have acquired enough doses of vaccine for their entire population to be vaccinated three times over, while nine out of 10 people in poor countries will not even receive a vaccine this year.
“If the Covid emergency has taught us anything, it’s just how connected we all are and that global problems cannot be fully addressed by local solutions.
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“If vaccines are to end the pandemic, 60 percent of the world must be inoculated to achieve that immunity.”
He blamed “vaccine nationalism” for having destroyed “the global solidarity and coordinated action needed to rollout coronavirus vaccines for the entire world”.
More than four million people have received a vaccine so far in the UK, making Britain a world leader in the rollout of the coronavirus antidotes.
On average 140 people are receiving a jab every minute in the UK, with the Government planning to ramp up the pace in the coming days.
Only Israel has inoculated a bigger percentage of its population than Britain.
By the middle of next month, more than 13 million Brits are expected to have been given a jab.
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The Government has vowed to immunise all over-50s by the end of spring, and offer vaccines to all over-18s by September.
Despite Mr Corbyn’s criticisms, the UK has contributed £548million in aid to a UN-led project aimed at distributing one billion doses of coronavirus vaccines to 92 developing countries this year.
At the launch of his new project, which vows to campaign “for change for the many, not the few”, Mr Corbyn also took aim at private corporations.
He said a “global response to the pandemic was held back” by businesses putting “mega-profits” ahead of public health.
His comments come even though the Pfizer/BioNTech and Oxford University/AstraZeneca vaccines being rolled out to help the world escape the coronavirus pandemic were financed with significant levels of private investment.
AstraZeneca has also agreed to manufacture the Oxford vaccine on a not-for-profit basis for the duration of the global crisis.
Pascal Soriot, AstraZeneca’s Chief Executive Officer, said last year the need for a vaccine was “urgent” and the firm was working with Oxford University to help get the vaccine to as many people as possible across the world.
He said: “Our hope is that, by joining forces, we can accelerate the globalisation of a vaccine to combat the virus and protect people from the deadliest pandemic in a generation.”
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