UK must give poorer countries jabs to stop millions of deaths and fight ‘dangerous gap’ in war on Covid, WHO warns

THE UK must give poorer countries jabs to stop millions more deaths amid outbreaks of super-infectious new mutations, leading health chiefs have warned.

Officials at the World Health Organisation (WHO) say without a global vaccinations roll-out spearheaded by richer countries, new variants will continue to emerge.

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And it could lead to more lockdowns – as well as countless fatalities, they say.

It comes as:

  • Xi Jinping ‘could be overthrown’ if claims of a Wuhan lab leak are proven
  • Just one Covid death was recorded in the past 24 hours – although 3,383 more tested positive
  • A third wave could already be under way in the UK, scientists warn
  • The NHS fears UK holidaymakers could pile pressure on hospitals in tourism hotspots
  • Covid passports ‘won’t have to be used for large events’ as plans to make them a legal requirement ‘will be dropped’

Britain is already a key member of the Covax scheme, which aims to ensure fair access to vaccines among rich and poor nations.

So far, this country has contributed half a billion to the project. 40million doses have been given to 117 countries around the world.

However, the heads of organisations including WHO, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank Group and the World Trade Organisation say more must be done.

The officials, who include WHO director-general Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, told the Telegraph a "dangerous gap" is emerging between rich and poor countries that could create a "two-track" pandemic. 

And they argue the most affluent countries must commit to spending $50billion to help developing nations – as it's our best chance to end the pandemic for good.

The officials said: "Increasingly, a two-track pandemic is developing.

"Inequitable vaccine distribution is not only leaving untold millions of people vulnerable to the virus, it is also allowing deadly variants to emerge and ricochet back across the world.

"Even countries with advanced vaccination programmes have been forced to reimpose stricter public health measures. It need not be this way."

The officials say 40 per cent of the world's population should be vaccinated by the end of the year – higher than the current 30 per cent target.

And to achieve the goal, they say "doses need to be donated immediately".

Their call comes as G7 finance ministers prepare to meet in London.

The UK is currently battling the spread of the Indian mutation, which may yet delay the final step in Boris Johnson's roadmap to freedom.

Meanwhile, more than 15,000 people queued at Twickenham Stadium today after NHS chiefs offered jabs to people younger than 30.

And all over-50s will be offered a second jab in the coming weeks to try and ensure the UK can throw off its final lockdown restrictions on June 21.

Around five million people aged over 50 are currently waiting for their second dose, meaning the NHS must vaccinate 225,000 of them a day to meet the target.

However, second jabs were doled out at a rate of 400,000 a day for the majority of last week – meaning the idea is realistic.

Meanwhile, almost three in four adults in the UK have received their first dose – while just over 48 per cent have been given both doses.

And vaccinations do appear to be severing the link between infections, hospitalisations and deaths, with one more fatality recorded today, despite rising cases.

But Environment Secretary George Eustice has warned the Government "can't rule anything out" when it comes to lifting lockdown altogether.

Brits will be told of the next step on June 14.

Chris Hopson, chief executive of NHS Providers, said a final easing will involve a "trade-off".

"Hospitals are really under pressure,” he said.

“They’re working full pelt to deal with the backlog of treatment, focusing  on the most urgent, and often the most complex, cases.

"Given these pressures, even a small increase in Covid-19 patients makes a big difference.”

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