Earlier this month, the Prime Minister said Britain and other rich countries need to make sure everyone around the world has access to COVID-19 jabs. Speaking to world leaders at the virtual G7 meeting, Mr Johnson said: “Science is finally getting the upper hand on Covid. Around the world [we need to] make sure everyone gets the vaccines that they need, so that the whole world can come through this pandemic together.”
Speaking to Express.co.uk, Dr Mark Parrish, Regional Medical Director at International SOS, explained the importance of making sure every country has access to coronavirus jabs.
He said: “We need to get to this magic ‘herd immunity’ that we hear about all the time – and it needs to be global herd immunity because that’s what’s going to get rid of this pandemic and allow us to return to normal.
“So we need the world to be vaccinated.
“Lots of countries pre ordered more vaccines than they needed, putting in orders with a number of different manufacturers as they wanted to cover their bases.
“The good thing is that most of these vaccines continued into production and have shown really good results, which means we have some surplus that can be used elsewhere in the world.”
During the G7 meeting, Mr Johnson said he wanted to “ensure that we distribute vaccines at cost around the world – make sure everybody gets the vaccines that they need so that the whole world can come through this pandemic together.”
The G7 leaders issued a statement agreeing to commit to “intensify cooperation on the health response to COVID-19”.
French President Emmanuel Macron previously told the Financial Times that richer countries should donate up from four to five percent of their current vaccine supplies to poorer states.
However, Britain’s Foreign Office Minister James Cleverly told the BBC that the UK will be “looking at a figure significantly greater than that”.
Mr Cleverly said the Government would be a “global force for good” in tackling the coronavirus pandemic.
But he admitted it was “difficult to say” at this stage when the UK will start sharing its vaccine surplus.
In Britain, more than 20 million people have received their first does of a coronavirus vaccine.
On Sunday, Health Secretary Matt Hancock called it a “magnificent achievement for the country”.
In a video posted on Twitter, Mr Hancock added: “I’m absolutely delighted that over 20 million people have now been vaccinated across the UK – it’s absolutely fantastic.
“I want to thank every single person who has come forward to get the jab because we know with increasing confidence that the jab protects you, it protects your community and it also is the route out of this for all of us.”
Dr Parrish explained why, despite the increase in people being vaccinated, it is still important for the public to adhere to social distancing and lockdown rules.
He told Express.co.uk: “For three reasons: it takes time to develop immunity from the vaccine; we don’t know who has developed how much immunity; and because we don’t know if a vaccinated person can still spread COVID-19.
“Early research would suggest that vaccinated people spread less virus but it’s a suggestion and we need more clear evidence of this.
“So, if you’ve been vaccinated, don’t think you are superman or wonder woman. You aren’t.
“We need to keep wearing masks, remaining distant from others, practising good hygiene and avoiding crowded spaces.”
Dr Parrish said we need “hard evidence” to know whether the vaccine is having an effect on the spread of the virus.
He added: “We need to be able to separate decreases in infection caused by lockdown from that caused by the virus and any decreased transmission and this requires some pretty complex maths around the research.
“We think it’s the case but need the hard evidence before we can say so.”