Boris Johnson has insisted that the booster programme must be “our priority” rather than sending more coronavirus vaccines to poorer nations struggling to roll out jabs.
The Prime Minister defended the “huge contributions” Britain has made by donating vaccines to developing nations as booster invites were being sent out to 1.5 million people in England this week.
Speaking to reporters on the way to New York for the UN General Assembly, Mr Johnson added: “But if you ask me, should we interrupt the booster programme for elderly and vulnerable people in this country?
“Well, I’ve looked at the evidence for what boosters can do, I’ve looked at the extra protection it can give people, and I have to say I think that that has to be our priority and we’re going to continue to do that.
“But that doesn’t mean we’re not making also a massive commitment to the rest of the world, because we fundamentally agree that nobody’s safe until everybody is safe.”
Under the booster programme, those eligible for boosters include anyone aged 50 and over, people living and working in care homes for the elderly, and frontline health and social care workers.
All those who are clinically extremely vulnerable and anyone aged 16 to 65 in an at-risk group for Covid will also be eligible.
But some have questioned whether this is a fair approach when millions across the global are yet to even receive first dose of a coronavirus vaccine.
Concerns have also been raised that failing to vaccinate the world will increase the chances of new variants emerging, including those that could evade the protection of existing vaccines.
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