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Nine million Oxford/AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine doses are being donated to countries in need, including Indonesia, Jamaica and Kenya, the UK government has announced.
This is the first shipment of the 100 million doses promised by the prime minister in June 2021, with 30 million of these due to be sent to countries in need by the end of 2021.
“The UK is sending 9 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,” said foreign secretary Dominic Raab in an announcement on 28 July 2021.
“We’re doing this to help the most vulnerable, but also because we know we won’t be safe until everyone is safe.”
Of the 9 million doses being delivered during the week commencing 26 July 2021, 5 million doses have been offered to COVAX, a global scheme that aims to ensure equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines in all corners of the world, regardless of wealth.
COVAX will distribute the donated vaccines to lower-income countries via an “equitable allocation system”, which will prioritise delivery of the vaccines to those who need them the most.
The remaining 4 million doses will then be shared directly with other countries in need. Indonesia will receive 600,000 doses, 300,000 doses will be sent to Jamaica and 817,000 will be transported to Kenya.
The UK government said it had invested £90m to support the development of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine and over half a billion doses had been delivered at a non-profit price globally, with two-thirds going to lower- and middle-income countries.
The COVAX scheme has now delivered more than 152 million vaccine doses to over 137 countries and territories, with an overall aim to deliver 1.8 billion vaccines to lower-income countries around the world by early 2022.
“This is a global pandemic and COVID-19 vaccines are the best way to protect people and prevent the emergence of new variants,” said health secretary Sajid Javid. “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.”
Javid said that the UK was one of the largest donors to COVAX. “The government has secured enough doses for all UK residents, crown dependencies and overseas territories to support our ongoing vaccination programme and booster programme,” he added.