Poulter joins calls for vaccines to be shared with developing countries
- Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown
Western governments - including Britain - should give away as much vaccine as they are injecting into their own residents, according to Central Suffolk and North Ipswich MP Dr Dan Poulter.
He said that for every jab given here one should be donated to poorer countries where vaccination programmes are not as advanced - and that was the only way to ensure the human race can beat the Covid pandemic.
Dr Poulter is vice-chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on coronavirus, and its members have called on the world's richest countries to do much more to prevent potentially dangerous variants turning up in other parts of the globe.
The group contains MPs and peers from across the political spectrum - from former Conservative ministers Lord Tebbitt and David Davis to leading Labour figures like Clive Lewis and Debbie Abrahams. It is chaired by Liberal Democrat Layla Moran.
The Suffolk MP said: "I know it's a bit of a cliche but it is true that until everyone around the world is covered by the vaccine, no one can be fully covered.
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"Where there are people who have not been vaccinated there is the opportunity for the virus to mutate. We have seen new variants come up in India, South Africa, and Brazil as well as in Kent.
"That makes travel very problematic - so far vaccines seem to continue to work but we don't know that will always be the case."
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Dr Poulter said the group felt it was vital that the west got as much vaccine to the developing world as possible.
He said: "Governments really should put pressure on pharmaceutical firms to get out the vaccine because in many cases they have helped fund the development of the vaccines.
"Astra Zeneca has been very good in releasing its vaccine at cost - others need to follow their example."
He also hoped that the G7 meeting in the summer would see the leaders of the world's richest countries coming under pressure to support global support for developing countries.
He said: "We've already seen President Biden putting pressure on pharma companies to release patents and I hope that will continue.
"And so far as Britain is concerned we have a population of 70 million but we have orders for 400m doses of vaccine. It must be sensible to share that with countries that have the potential to be the origin of the next variant.
"It's not just morally right to share vaccines, it's in our own self-interest."