Boris Johnson has a “moral duty” to share some of the UK’s coronavirus vaccines with developing nations to prevent a “humanitarian disaster” say MPs and peers.
In a letter, they urge the PM to show “global leadership” ahead of the G7 summit by pledging to donate one dose abroad for each one given in the UK.
There is concern new variants could prolong the UK’s lockdown restrictions .
Ministers say the UK was one of the earliest vaccination donors.
Vaccines are being administered across the world under an international scheme known as Covax , to try and stop the coronavirus pandemic, but the global situation remains vastly uneven.
The UK – which has ordered more than 400 million doses of various vaccines – has promised to give most of its surplus vaccine supply to poorer countries.
But international organisations such as the World Health Organisation, the IMF and the World Bank are concerned that not enough is being done to stop new variants spreading and say no-one is safe from the virus until everyone is protected.
And more than a hundred MPs and peers from across the political spectrum have said the UK has a “moral imperative” to go further.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson will host the G7 leaders’ summit in Carbis Bay in Cornwall from June 11. The government has said it will use its presidency of the G7 to “unite leading democracies to help the world fight” coronavirus.
The letter, coordinated by the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Coronavirus (APPG), describes how “harrowing scenes” are unfolding in lower and middle-income countries where Covid cases and deaths are soaring due to the shortage of vaccines.
It says there is both a moral and rational case for closing the global vaccine divide, adding that the recent surge in cases of the Indian variant has shown that “to save lives at home, we must vaccinate the world.”
They say Britain should adopt a policy of “vaccine matching,” in which for each dose of the vaccine imported into the UK, one dose is donated to lower and middle-income nations via the Covax scheme.
And the UK should increase its own manufacturing capacity to become a “net vaccine exporter” while temporarily lifting patent protections for coronavirus vaccines they say.
Liberal Democrat, Layla Moran, who chairs the APPG, said: “Unless action is taken now, millions more lives could tragically be lost in lower and middle-income countries facing a desperate shortage of Covid vaccines.
“The UK government must not turn its back on the humanitarian disaster unfolding around the globe.
“As the eyes of the world are upon us for the G7 summit, it’s time to show global leadership and donate an equal share of vaccine doses to those who need them most.
“This would not only save lives abroad, but would reduce the risk of new variants emerging that would threaten our own hard-won progress against the pandemic here at home.”
Under the government’s roadmap , all legal limits on social contact in England are due to be lifted no earlier than the 21 June.
But some scientists have called for a delay, warning the UK is in the early stages of a third wave of the virus after the UK reported more than 3,000 new Covid infections on Monday for a sixth day in a row.
The prime minister’s official spokesman said the UK is in a “global crisis”.
The spokesman said more needs to be done to make sure vaccines, treatments and tests are available to all, and while it is the government’s duty to protect its own population, the UK is one of the earliest and largest donors to Covax.
He added that Covax has now delivered more than 61 million vaccine doses to 120 countries.
And speaking to ITV news, Business Minister, Paul Scully said “undoubtedly” the global situation will be raised at the G7 summit next week.
“The UK is the largest donor to Gavi, the international vaccine organisation, we put half a billion pounds in to the organisation that’s rolling out the vaccine around the world”, he said.
“We won’t be out of this issue until the whole world is out of this issue because of international travel”.
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