UK begins delivery of 9m Covid-19 vaccines overseas

31 July 2021, 00:04

The first flight carrying doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine to other countries departed from the UK on Friday
The first flight carrying doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine to other countries departed from the UK on Friday. Picture: Alamy

By Daisy Stephens

The UK has begun operations to deliver nine million Covid-19 vaccinations overseas as part of an international drive to fight the virus.

The first flight carrying doses of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine to Guyana and Belize departed from Heathrow airport on Friday, with further deliveries to countries including Indonesia, Jamaica and Kenya planned for this week, according to the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) 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,” said Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab.

"We're doing this to help the most vulnerable, but also because we know we won't be safe until everyone is safe."

Read more: Boris Johnson under pressure to allow double jabbed to escape isolation sooner

Read more: Covid infections rise across most of UK but R-rate drops slightly in England

The Government has pledged a total of 100 million vaccines abroad, 80 million of which will go to the Covax scheme which helps supply vaccines to lower-income countries.

Mr Raab announced the plans to ship excess vaccines overseas to "vulnerable" countries on Wednesday.

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.

Read more: Clubs to ask for vaccine passports after Govt accused of introducing them 'by stealth'

Read more: 'You can't hope your way into Covid immunity': JCVI doctor challenges anti-vaxxer

Five million doses are being offered to Covax for distribution and four million doses will be shared directly with countries in need.

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.

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."