EMMANUEL Macron has tried to upstage Boris Johnson ahead of the G7 today by demanding Europe starts sending vaccines to poorer countries NOW.
The PM has already promised millions of doses to other countries in the coming months, but hasn’t put a firm time-frame on it yet.
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But the French President demanded Europe start dishing out doses to other countries now – despite the shambolic rollout of the EU’s own vaccine programme which means millions are still waiting for theirs.
Mr Macron told the Financial Times the failure to share vaccines fairly would entrench global inequality – ahead of the PM hosting the global virtual G7 summit later today.
And he claimed Angela Merkel was behind his idea to donate 4 to five per cent of their supplies straight away too.
He said: “We are allowing the idea to take hold that hundreds of millions of vaccines are being given in rich countries and that we are not starting in poor countries.
“It’s an unprecedented acceleration of global inequality and it’s politically unsustainable too because it’s paving the way for a war of influence over vaccines.
“You can see the Chinese strategy, and the Russian strategy too.”
It came as:
- The PM prepares to reveal his roadmap out of lockdown to the nation on Monday
- Pfizer warned the South African variant could reduce the effectiveness of its jab by two-thirds
- Tory MPs piled pressure. on Boris Johnson to go further and faster on lifting restrictions
- Wales said it would bring more kids back to school from March 15, with moves to open non-essential shops and holiday lets by Easter
The US has said it won’t start dishing out vaccines abroad until it’s sorted out a plentiful supply for its own people – and has already pledged cash to the international vaccine alliance.
And today Foreign Office minister James Cleverly slapped down Mr Macron’s choice to use vaccines as “diplomatic leverage”, saying that it was much better to hand over doses to the COVAX alliance to decide how best to distribute them.
He said Britain would be setting out exact details of how many spare doses it would give when it has made made progress with the rollout.
Britain aims to vaccinate al over 50s by the end of April – and it could be sooner as the pace continues to go well.
Mr Cleverly told LBC Radio today: “Ultimately, our first priority, quite rightly, is the protection of the British people, that’s what we’re focusing on and we’re doing that very effectively and the vaccines rollout very, very quickly.
“But we also know that we, as the UK, are not really going to be safe until we have also addressed this situation internationally, which is why it’s important we do both.
“When we assessed that we have really got ahead of the problem on this and that will be very much guided by the science, that’s when we can start seeing those surplus doses distributed.”
It’s not likely this will be until at least all the over 50s have got their first vaccine dose.
Britain has secured more than 400million doses of various vaccines after sealing deals with firms across the globe.
It means that millions will be able to be donated to others countries to help vaccinate poorer countries too.
The PM was due to tell fellow world leaders today that we face the “tantalising prospect of a return to normality”, but the mistakes of the Covid pandemic must never be allowed to happen again.
He will use this year’s presidency of the G7 — the annual gathering of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the UK and US — to begin work on an international pandemic early warning system to stop any future virus from crippling the planet.
At his first virtual meeting in charge, the PM will say: “The development of viable coronavirus vaccines offers the tantalising prospect of a return to normality, but we must not rest on our laurels.
“As leaders of the G7 we must say today: never again.”
He will urge the group to back an ambitious target of supporting the development of vaccines for emerging diseases in 100 days in future, a third of the time it took to successfully develop the Pfizer-BioNTech jab.
And he wants funding to increase for Covax — the vaccine drive for poor countries.
Last night, he pledged to donate “the majority of surplus coronavirus vaccines” to poorer nations.