U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson wants the globe’s richest nations to “vaccinate the world” by the end of 2022 — a plea that comes months after Britain was accused of hoarding its own shots.
“Vaccinating the world by the end of next year would be the single greatest feat in medical history,” Johnson plans to say ahead of next week’s G7 summit in the U.K., according to an advanced copy of the prime minister’s prepared remarks provided by his office.
Johnson’s initiative is bound to raise eyebrows following EU leaders’ accusations earlier this year that the U.K. had effectively banned the export of COVID vaccines and their components.
While Johnson denied those claims and pointed to the U.K.’s promise to contribute more than £500 million to the global immunization initiative known as COVAX, London has yet to disclose how many vaccine doses it has sent abroad.
The U.K. expects to have fully inoculated all willing adults by the end of July.
Though over 40 percent of the population in wealthy countries such as the U.K. and U.S. is fully immunized, less than 6 percent of the global population has reached that mark. The disparity is fueling concerns the pandemic will continue to rage in many parts of the world, particularly in poorer nations.
Johnson encouraged G7 countries to boost vaccine production, remove barriers to distribution and send their own surplus supplies to global regions in need.
“I’m calling on my fellow G7 leaders to join us to end to this terrible pandemic and pledge will we never allow the devastation wreaked by coronavirus to happen again,” he said.