Professor Andrew Pollard, who helped develop the Oxford AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine, has said that it is “morally wrong” to offer the jab to children in wealthy countries before adults in poorer nations.
Professor Pollard is the director of the Oxford Vaccine Group and told a group of MPs that global vaccine inequality is “plain to see”.
High-income countries such as the UK and USA hold a confirmed 4.6 billion vaccine doses, compared to 670 million held by poorer nations.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) launched the Covax scheme last year in an effort to deliver Covid vaccines to nations unable to afford them. More than 49 million doses of the jab have been given through the scheme, but a further £25bn to £35bn is needed over the course of the next year to immunise most adults.
On Monday, Health Secretary Matt Hancock confirmed that the UK has now secured enough Covid jabs to offer the Pfizer vaccine to children aged 12 and above if and when it is clinically approved.
Speaking to the All Party Parliamentary Group on Coronavirus, Professor Pollard said that children have a “near-to-zero” risk of severe disease or death from the virus, noting that “when you look at the overall aim of a global vaccination programme in a pandemic, it’s to stop people dying.
“And we know who those people are – that’s the over-50s, it’s those who’ve got health conditions and to some extent also healthcare workers and so those are the priority groups.
“We are in a situation at the moment where there are many unvaccinated people in the world but not enough doses for everyone yet.”
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