Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks at a News conference about the ongoing coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in London on May 14, 2021. [Photo/Agencies]

PM seeks new target to inoculate the whole world by the end of next year

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson says he hopes this month’s meeting of leaders of the G7 nations can reach agreement on a strategy of global preparedness for future pandemics.

A preliminary virtual meeting of the leaders took place last week, and afterwards Johnson told Canadian broadcasting organization CBC that collaborative global leadership was necessary to learn the lessons of COVID-19, and to ensure there was a plan of action in place for any similar event in years to come.

“If you look at what happened in the world in 2020, it was a terrible year for humanity and it was a terrible year for the international system,” Johnson said.

He added that differing national approaches to quarantine and lockdown, and to the sharing of personal protective equipment and vaccines, and disruption of global supply chains had made the situation worse.

“We need to have rules so that there can be no interruptions of supplies across borders, so that we have secure supply chains for the things that we depend on in future.”

The issue of vaccine inequality, and the contrasting levels of vaccination in richer and poorer regions, is often highlighted as a major impediment to efforts to defeat the novel coronavirus.

The Guardian Newspaper reports that just 1 percent of the 1.3 billion vaccine doses administered so far have been in Africa, and India has suffered particularly badly, with the Deccan Herald Newspaper alleging that the official figure of 24.7 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 in India, published on May 15, is far below the actual number.

The strain of the virus first identified in India is now the dominant strain in the United Kingdom, and the Sunday Times reported that ministers knew about it in early April, two weeks before making any public comment on it, and another 8 days before putting India on the so-called red travel list. Around that time Johnson had planned to visit India until the trip was cancelled at the last minute.

“Nobody is safe until everybody is safe,” said Johnson. “What we want the G7 to try to agree to is that instead of vaccinating the whole world by 2024 or 2025, which is… what we’d achieve on the current timetable, we need to get this done by the end of next year, by 2022.”

He also spoke of the importance of a global approach to vaccine passports, but this contrasts with British media reports on the policy at home.

Since February, the government had been considering requiring people to have COVID-19 status certification to attend public events, part of the so-called road map out of lockdown.

But amid concerns over its legality, the Daily Telegraph reports the idea has been scrapped. “It’s not a case of ‘it’s finely balanced’. It’s not going to happen,” said a government source. “Everyone says it’s dead.”