On vaccine equality, the UK has failed to show the leadership the world needs

The Guardian, by Mohamed Adow and Tasneem Essop

Britain has broken the promises Boris Johnson made before the G7 – a change of tack is necessary to make Cop26 a success

Covid and the climate crisis are the two defining global crises of our time and Britain has a crucial role to play in addressing them both. As the Cop26 host, it will be responsible for overseeing a successful outcome at the UN climate talks in Glasgow in November.

Only a few weeks ago, before the prime minister hosted the G7, Boris Johnson promised the group of wealthy nations would vaccinate the world by the end of the year.

After failing dismally to deliver on this pledge, the UK government is trying to rush delegates to Cop26 a Covid vaccine in order to keep its climate conference on the road at all costs. The sudden and hurried announcement pushes those who want to attend Cop to register for a vaccination by 23 July. This puts many people, especially in poorer nations and from vital civil society groups, in the invidious position of having to choose to get a vaccine before the frontline workers and vulnerable groups in their own countries.

This moral dilemma could be avoided if rich nations at the G7, under the UK’s leadership, had stepped up with a real plan to achieve global vaccine equity. They did not. Instead, they have perpetuated the vaccine apartheid we are experiencing.

More than 100 former presidents and prime ministers had written to the G7, urging them to bankroll at least two-thirds of the $66bn (£48bn) needed by low-income countries for Covid vaccines. But rather than paying up the $44bn that such an undertaking would cost, they instead offered a measly $7bn.

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