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Boris Johnson will lead efforts to fend off accusations that the world’s richest countries are hoarding Covid vaccines by pledging at a G7 summit today that the UK will donate surplus doses to poorer countries.
Johnson, who is chairing the first meeting of the G7 attended by new US president Joe Biden, will commit to sharing the majority of any future surplus coronavirus jabs from its supply with the Covax vaccine-sharing programme to support developing countries.
He will also use the meeting, which will be led via video-link, to deliver a target of cutting the time to develop new vaccines by two-thirds to 100 days.
Johnson confirmed he has asked Sir Patrick Vallance, the UK’s chief scientific adviser, to work with international partners, including the World Health Organization and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, to advise the G7 on speeding up the process for developing vaccines, treatments and tests for common pathogens.
Speaking to Times Radio this morning, foreign office minister James Cleverly said:
We’ve made a very principled and correct decision that the best way of deciding the distribution of the bulk of the vaccine to the world should be done through multilateral bodies rather than using what is potentially a life-saving drug as some form of diplomatic leverage. So we’ve decided to go through Covax which is the international body that will decide the best and most equitable distribution.
On the domestic front, some of the papers are again leading on the proposals under consideration for the easing of curbs, as well as the vaccination effort.
The Daily Mail reports that people over 40 will begin to be offered a coronavirus vaccine by the end of March, saying that government advisers are set to recommend widening jab lists and focus offers on the basis of age.
The Daily Telegraph, meanwhile, reports that coronavirus vaccines appear to cut Covid transmissions and infections by two-thirds, adding that “real-world data” shows a “powerful effect” of jabs on the spread of the virus.
Here is the agenda for the day:
09.30: Covid social impacts weekly survey
12.00: Weekly UK Covid-19 infection survey from the ONS
14.00: PM hosts virtual G7 meeting on vaccine distribution
15.30: Test & trace chief Baroness Harding briefing on rapid tests rollout
Here is our global coronavirus live blog for Covid-related news from around the world: