WTO chief urges UK to donate vaccines to developing countries now

Harriet Line, PA Deputy Political Editor
·1-min read

Britain should not wait until it has a surplus of coronavirus vaccines to donate them to developing countries, the new head of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) has said.

Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala urged the Government to act now as it is “in the interest” of rich countries as well as poor countries to have “equitable access”.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson pledged to donate the majority of the UK’s surplus vaccines to poorer nations in the lead-up to Friday’s virtual G7 meeting.

He told world leaders that there is “no point in us vaccinating our individual populations – we’ve got to make sure the whole world is vaccinated because this is a global pandemic”.

But Ms Okonjo-Iweala told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that while the move was “welcome”, there should not be a delay.

She said: “I don’t think we should wait to get surplus when other people have been served. I think that any donations that are coming must come now.

“The reason is very simple. It’s in the interest of rich countries as well as poor countries to have equitable access.”