On Friday the first round of vaccines set off from Heathrow airport as part of an international initiative to fight coronavirus. The flight set off on Friday and was carrying doses of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine to Guyana and Belize.
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab announced the plans to ship excess vaccines overseas to “vulnerable” countries on Wednesday.
He said: “The UK is sending nine million doses of AstraZeneca vaccine, the first batch of the 100 million doses we’ve pledged, to get the most vulnerable parts of the world vaccinated as a matter of urgency.
“We’re doing this to help the most vulnerable, but also because we know we won’t be safe until everyone is safe.”
So far in the UK, more than 46 million people have had a first vaccine dose which is nearly 90 percent of the adult population.
More than 37 million – over 70 percent of adults – have had both doses.
A further four million doses will be shared directly with countries in need.
Dr Seth Berkley, CEO of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, which is co-leading COVAX said: “The UK has been a steadfast supporter of COVAX since its inception and this announcement comes at an important time.
“Global vaccine demand is far outstripping supply, leaving millions of the most vulnerable unprotected, while higher vaccine coverage worldwide is one of our best shields against new variants.
“In this pandemic, nobody is safe until everyone is safe.”
Indonesia will receive 600,000 doses, 300,000 will be sent to Jamaica and 817,000 are to be transported to Kenya, among other countries.
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These countries will receive up to four million doses.
In total, the Government has pledged to deliver 100 million vaccines abroad, of which 80 million will be given to COVAX.
The Prime Minister pledged the UK would share the 100 million vaccines within the next year at last month’s G7 in Cornwall, with 30 million due to be sent by the end of the year.
The UK is donating the University of Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, made by Oxford Biomedica in Oxford and packaged in Wrexham, North Wales.
The FCDO said the first international vaccine deployment would help to meet urgent demand in regions currently experiencing high levels of Covid-19 cases, hospital admissions and deaths.
Health Secretary Sajid Javid said: “This is a global pandemic and Covid-19 vaccines are the best way to protect people and prevent the emergence of new variants.
“We want to make sure developing countries can build a wall of defence against the virus as we have in the UK through our vaccine rollout.
“The Government has secured enough doses for all UK residents, crown dependencies and overseas territories to support our ongoing vaccination programme and booster programme.”