First Minister Nicola Sturgeon is being urged to do more to end the “vaccine apartheid” that has developed between rich and poor nations.
A group of charities is urging both the First Minister and the Scottish Parliament to put pressure on Prime Minister Boris Johnson ahead of the G7 summit, which gets under way on Friday.
The event, being held in Cornwall, will bring together the leaders of seven highly-developed nations, including US President Joe Biden and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
Campaigners from Oxfam Scotland, Christian Aid Scotland and Global Justice Now Scotland – which are all members of the international People’s Vaccine Alliance – are demanding more action to accelerate the rollout of Covid vaccines to poorer nations.
More than half of adults in Scotland have already had two doses of vaccine, but the People’s Vaccine Alliance fears it could take 57 years for everyone in some countries to be fully protected in this way.
It wants Ms Sturgeon to support a new motion in the Scottish Parliament, urging the Prime Minister to back plans to waive intellectual property rules and insist that the vaccine knowledge and technology is shared through the World Health Organisation’s Covid Technology Access Pool, enabling a life-saving ramping up in global vaccine production.
Jamie Livingstone, head of Oxfam Scotland, said: “Scotland’s politicians can no longer simply spectate as the Prime Minister blocks action to prevent pharmaceutical company bosses from deciding who lives and who dies globally while their companies pocket billions of dollars.
“The UK Government is standing on the wrong side of history and the Scottish Parliament and First Minister must hold them to account by supporting calls for a people’s vaccine that puts saving lives above patent protection and profits.”
Sally Foster-Fulton, head of Christian Aid Scotland, said: “Ahead of this week’s G7 meeting, Scotland’s politicians must send the Prime Minister an unequivocal message, that the Scottish Parliament stands united in its opposition to vaccine apartheid.
“Access to a life-saving vaccine shouldn’t depend on where you live or how much money you have in your pocket. After all, no-one is safe until we all are.”
Liz Murray, head of campaigns in Scotland for Global Justice Now, said: “Rich countries are currently denying some of the world’s poorest access to life-saving vaccines.
“It’s not just wrong, but also self-defeating and short-sighted. As long as the virus is allowed to spread in other parts of the world, Scotland and the UK’s health and economy will continue to be under threat. Boris Johnson’s intransigence risks prolonging this pandemic for everyone – and Scotland must not be complicit.
“Nicola Sturgeon needs to speak up and demand the Prime Minister stops protecting the profits of the big pharmaceutical companies while putting all of our lives and futures at risk.”
The First Minister has already said she hopes the G7 meeting will result in an agreement that “there is a responsibility on the part of the G7 to help speed up vaccination, not just in the G7 countries but globally”.
She pledged: “I will continue to add Scotland’s voice to that as loudly as I can.”
Ms Sturgeon stated: “It is absolutely the case that, although we are of course really focused on vaccinating our own population as quickly as possible – because that is our first contribution to ending the global pandemic – we will not end the pandemic until the whole world manages to exit from it.
“The best chance that we have of exiting from it is through mass vaccination. We therefore all have a part to play in that, and the richest countries in the world have a real moral obligation to lead that effort.”
A Scottish Government spokesman said: “The Scottish Government continues to engage with the UK Government and the Covid-19 Vaccine Taskforce on how to support and benefit from the work under way worldwide to develop and deliver a safe and effective vaccine for Covid-19.”
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