RICHER countries are facing calls to share more vaccines sooner with the developing world, and at the UK level, health secretary Matt Hancock has said vaccinating schoolchildren will take priority over sending vaccines to other countries.

Meanwhile first minister Mark Drakeford has said delaying a programme in Welsh schools wouldn’t help secure more supplies for the developing world. 

Unicef has warned that if large amount of doses of unused vaccines are donated by Western countries to the developing world in one go, millions could go unused. 

The charity wants to see a steady supply made available as poorer countries do not have the resources to use them all at once and wants doses to be made available sooner rather than later. 

The UK and other countries have promised to donate surplus doses but ahead ofthe  G7 conference and the United Nations charity is stepping up demands for rich countries to share 20 per cent of their supplies by August. 

Celebrities including pop star Billie Eilish and David Beckham have signed a letter to the G7 group of the world’s richest nations in support of Unicef’s demands. 

It has said countries like the UK should start sharing supplies while also continuing to vaccinate their own population. 

Lily Caprani, Unicef’s vaccine lead, told BBC Newsnight countries needed to vaccinate their own populations at the same time as the rest of the world. 

"At some point, no doubt, we will need to vaccinate under-18s," she said. "But the priority at this moment has to be making sure that all of the vulnerable and priority groups around the world get vaccines. 

"So we're saying countries like the UK and the G7 need to donate their doses to those low income countries now, while still vaccinating their populations at home." 


Mr Drakeford has said the Welsh cabinet will discuss the sharing of vaccines but said: “It’s not an issue, I think, that is easily resolvable at the Welsh level.” 

He said should Wales decide against offering vaccination to children in schools, but Scotland and England were doing so, that wouldn’t make Welsh supplies available for the developing world. 

“Say we were... not to offer vaccination to children in Welsh schools, but they were being offered in England and Scotland, the practical impact of our decision would not be to divert more supplies of vaccines to countries which don’t have vaccines, it would simply mean we weren’t drawing down from the UK stock, and that stock would be used elsewhere in the United Kingdom.” 

The first minister said it is difficult for Wales to make an impact on the global availability of vaccines. 

“I follow very carefully what Gordon Brown, for example, has been saying about the UK’s obligation to make sure other parts of the world get their supply of vaccines, because none of us are safe until everybody is safe in this health crises," he said. 

“But whether unilateral action in Wales would make any genuine difference is, I think, a much more complex question and one which the cabinet will wrestle with but I’m not convinced, myself, at the moment, whether not going ahead with vaccination in Wales would actually have an impact on diverting supplies to elsewhere in the world.” 

Former PM Gordon Brown said Britain should be pushing for a major international vaccination programme when its hosts the G7 summit, and that vaccinating the world will help protect against new variants emerging. 

  • This article originally appeared on our sister site The National.