“Send COVID Vaccines To Poorer Nations Now, Not When There Is A Surplus!” – Okonjo-Iweala Tells Boris Johnson

The UK should donate vaccines to developing countries now rather than waiting until it has a surplus, the new head of the World Trade Organization, Nigeria’s Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala has told the BBC.

The WTO chief said it was “in the interest” of wealthy countries that all nations access vaccines.

It comes after PM Boris Johnson said the UK would donate most of its surplus supply to poorer nations.

On Friday, G7 leaders pledged to intensify co-operation on Covid-19.

They agreed to increase their contribution to the Covax vaccine-sharing initiative, which is aiming to get at least 1.3 billion doses to vulnerable populations worldwide in the coming months.

Addressing the UK government’s plans to donate its surplus vaccines to the developing world, Ms Okonjo-Iweala told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme it was “welcome” – but cautioned against delay.

“I don’t think we should wait to get surplus when other people have been served,” she said. “I think that any donations that are coming must come now.

“The reason is very simple. It’s in the interest of rich countries as well as poor countries to have equitable access.”