UK could share 20% of available Covid-19 vaccines now and still meet targets to vaccinate its own population

Home > Media Contacts and Press Releases > UK could share 20% of available Covid-19 vaccines now and still meet targets to vaccinate its own population

Spokespeople available for interview and b-roll and stills showing COVAX roll-out available here. 

– New analysis released by the UK Committee for UNICEF (UNICEF UK) reveals the UK Government could donate 20% of available Covid-19 vaccines to countries that need them and still be on track to vaccinate the adult population by the end of July

– Once every adult in the UK has been fully vaccinated, with high-risk groups receiving boosters, there would be surplus doses to fully vaccinate at least 50 million people globally

– Charity calls on UK Government to lead G7 surplus dose sharing and commit now to start sharing doses from June to vaccinate vulnerable populations in low-income countries   

12 May, LONDON | The UK Government should urgently commit to sharing 20% of its available* Covid-19 vaccine doses from June to aid global recovery from Covid-19, prevent further spread of variants of the virus and open up society for children, says the UK Committee for UNICEF (UNICEF UK) today.

As chief negotiators from across the G7 meet this week to agree outcomes of the June summit, UNICEF UK is calling on the UK Government to lead by example by committing to sharing 20% of its vaccine supply with COVAX from June and urging other nations to match this.

According to new data analysis commissioned by UNICEF UK and provided by Airfinity**, the life sciences research facility, the UK has secured 1 in every 25 vaccines forecast to be supplied in 2021, while accounting for under 1% of the world’s population, and is therefore expected to have 347 million doses available by the end of 2021 if all vaccines are approved. In comparison, currently less than 2% of the world’s Covid-19 vaccines have been administered across the continent of Africa, leaving populations at risk.

UNICEF UK’s analysis indicates that once every adult in the UK has been vaccinated and booster doses have been provided to high-risk groups, there would be enough surplus doses in 2021 to fully vaccinate 50 million people globally, rising to 115 million people if all vaccines currently in phase III trials are approved. This would increase global supply well in excess of the 59 million doses shipped by COVAX so far and could protect the world’s unvaccinated health workers. 

Joanna Rea, Director of Advocacy at The UK Committee for UNICEF (UNICEF UK), said:

“The UK has done a fantastic job in rolling out Covid-19 vaccines to more than half of its adult population and we should all be proud of what has been achieved. However, we can’t ignore that the UK and other G7 countries have purchased over a third of the world’s vaccine supply, despite making up only 13% of the global population – and we risk leaving low-income countries behind.

“Unless the UK urgently starts sharing its available doses to ensure others around the world are protected from the virus, the UK will not be safe from Covid-19. Our vaccine rollout success could be reversed and the NHS could be fighting another wave of the virus due to deadly mutations.”

UNICEF UK projects that with the UK on track to have enough doses to fully vaccinate its entire adult population by 9 July, committing to sharing 20% of surplus doses from June when the G7 Leaders’ Summit is held would delay this by just ten days, while enabling COVAX stocks to reach countries with low or no vaccine coverage.

Meanwhile, a You Gov poll of the UK public commissioned by the charity has shown that 85% of the public in Great Britain support the UK Government sharing surplus doses with other countries ***. This support is further evidenced by generous donations made by the British public to support UNICEF UK and Crowdfunder’s NHS-backed fundraising campaign “VaccinAid”, with over £1million raised so far.

The campaign is calling on the public to Give the World a Shot to help fund and deliver up to 2 billion Covid-19 vaccines this year. One donor said: “As a healthy 40 something, I am so grateful to be vaccinated. I wish others more vulnerable than myself in other countries had been vaccinated before me.”

With decades of experience delivering vaccines globally for routine immunisations, UNICEF is playing a critical role of procuring and delivering 2 billion Covid-19 vaccine doses for 92 low and lower-middle income countries as part of the COVAX Facility in partnership with WHO, GAVI and CEPI. So far over 59 million vaccines have been shipped to more than 120 countries, however issues with the supply chain for vaccines have caused delays, a situation worsened by high income countries dominating access to available vaccines.

Rea added: “The UK has generously donated to COVAX and has committed to sharing vaccines, but this needs to start now. This G7 summit in June is a crucial opportunity for the world’s leading democracies to provide a clear path out of the global pandemic.

“With France committing to share 5% of vaccines and the US pledging 60 million Astra Zeneca doses, our analysis shows that the UK Government can go further and faster by building on its surplus dose sharing pledge and committing to sharing 20% of its available doses from June through COVAX.”

As well as shutting down the global economy and putting pressure on already stretched health systems, the charity has warned that the coronavirus pandemic is the worst crisis for children since the Second World War and could cast a long shadow over their futures. The more people are vaccinated against Covid-19, the more opportunities and protection there is for the children who rely on them.

UNICEF UK asserts that the benefits of surplus dose sharing through COVAX will:

– Prevent the spread of the virus and the development of mutations of the disease that may reduce vaccine efficacy and pose a further threat to the UK population.

– Protect children’s lives by enabling the restoration, resumption and scaling-up of routine immunisation and other essential health services severely impacted by Covid-19.

– Ensure that economies can reopen safely, and communities can build a better society for children

“Put simply, surplus dose sharing is a matter of life or death. We need the UK Government to deliver on their pledge to share doses -and for that to start now if there is any hope of ending this pandemic,” Rea concluded.

You can sign UNICEF UK’s petition calling on the government to share surplus doses at act.unicef.org.uk and help Give the World A Shot to support the biggest vaccine drive in history by donating at vaccinaid.org 

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Note to editor 

*For the purposes of this analysis, ‘available’ refers to the number of doses that can be readily accessed according to supply forecasts of approved vaccine candidates.

**This analysis was produced using data forecasts of vaccine supplies allocated to the UK and other G7 members based on doses set to be readily available. The supply forecasts are based on existing deals between countries and manufacturers of approved vaccine candidates unless specified as included vaccine candidates currently undergoing Phase III trials.

**YouGov: Total sample size was 2106 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 13th – 14th April 2021.  The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+). All polling figures unless otherwise stated are from YouGov Plc.

UNICEF is calling on the general public to Help UNICEF Give The World A Shot by donating at vaccinaid.org. The money raised will help UNICEF deliver 2 billion Covid-19 vaccines around the world in 2021, as well as tests and treatments, through the global COVAX facility. It is the biggest health operation in history, to ensure no one is left behind in the efforts to eradicate Covid-19 and its devastating impact.

About UNICEF

UNICEF works in some of the world’s toughest places, to reach the world’s most disadvantaged children. Across more than 190 countries and territories, we work for every child, everywhere, to build a better world for everyone.

The UK Committee for UNICEF (UNICEF UK) raises funds for UNICEF’s emergency and development work for children. We also promote and protect children’s rights in the UK and internationally. We are a UK charity, entirely funded by supporters.

United Kingdom Committee for UNICEF (UNICEF UK), Registered Charity No. 1072612 (England & Wales), SC043677 (Scotland).

For more information visit unicef.org.uk. Follow UNICEF UK on TwitterLinkedInFacebook

Media contact

Yemi Lufadeju, +44 20 7375 6199YemiL@unicef.org.uk

UNICEF UK Media Team, 0207 375 6030media@unicef.org.uk