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The UK has begun exports of coronavirus vaccine doses to poorer countries, announcing that 9m will be delivered this week around the world as its domestic programme slows.
The Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccines were due to begin leaving the UK this week – the first time the UK has donated doses rather than funds to Covax, the initiative to distribute vaccines to poorer countries.
This is a global health crisis, not an opportunity for vain self-promotion. Worse still, this shoddy piece of PR went out on the very day the UK is blocking real solutions at the World Trade Organization that would allow many of these countries to produce their own vaccines in far greater quantities than donations will ever achieve.
It shouldn’t be up to Dominic Raab to decide if a country is strategically useful enough to deserve some of the UK’s leftover doses. We should be building domestic manufacturing in those countries by waiving vaccine intellectual property and sharing technological know-how.
The UK reported 27,734 new coronavirus cases on Wednesday, with the weekly count a third lower than the previous week, according to official figures.
However, there was an increase in the number of deaths 28 days after a positive coronavirus tests, with 91 on Wednesday and 498 over the past week, an increase of a third (36%).
There was also an increase in the number of patients admitted to hospital – with 825 admitted on Wednesday and the weekly tally at 6,144, a 23% rise.