The UK will start donating vaccines to countries in need within weeks, with at least 100 million surplus doses being distributed in the next year, Boris Johnson announced as G7 leaders gathered in Cornwall.
The group of seven leading industrialised nations are expected to collectively agree to provide a billion doses of vaccine in an effort to end the pandemic in 2022.
The summit, in Carbis Bay, begins on Friday with leaders of wealthy nations under pressure to do more to share the burden of protecting the world from the virus.
US President Joe Biden has already promised to donate half a billion Pfizer vaccines for 92 low- and lower middle-income countries and the African Union.
Under the Prime Minister’s plan, the UK will provide five million doses by the end of September, with 25 million more by the end of 2021.
Venezuela’s government has been unable to complete a payment required to receive coronavirus vaccines because transfers to the global COVAX vaccine program had been blocked, Reuters reports. The government of President Nicolas Maduro for months said it was unable to pay for the COVAX program because of U.S. sanctions, and then in March announced that it had made almost all the required $120 million payment. Vice President Delcy Rodriguez in a televised broadcast on Thursday said the government had been unable to pay down the remaining $10 million because four operations had been blocked. “The financial system that also hides behind the U.S. lobby, has the power to block resources that can be used to immunize the population of Venezuela,” Rodriguez said. Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza later tweeted a copy of a letter from COVAX saying it had received information from Swiss bank UBS that four operations, totaling $4.6 million, “were blocked and under investigation.” It was not immediately evident who blocked the operations or why. UBS said for legal and regulatory reasons it is “unable to comment on matters relating to potential client relationships.”
Pfizer has cut July deliveries of its Covid-19 vaccine to Norway by 400,000 doses, delaying the country’s vaccine rollout, Reuters reports.
Pfizer, a major provider of vaccines to Norway which has dropped Astrazeneca’s jab and only offering J&J’s Jenssen vaccine under certain conditions, will now provide 800,000 doses in July, from the earlier estimated 1.2 million doses.
Norway’s vaccination programme will now be delayed by one to two weeks compared to its earlier estimate.
Prime minister Erna Solberg said in May the government aimed to offer a first dose to all those aged 18 and over by July 25.
The Edinburgh festivals in Scotland have been offered millions of pounds in emergency funding in the face of widespread fears they may never fully recover from the severe impacts of the Covid pandemic.
The Fringe, international and book festivals, which help make up the world’s largest annual arts season, have been forced to very significantly curtail this August’s events, the second year running it has done so. One of the most famous, the military tattoo staged at Edinburgh castle, has again been cancelled.
Many senior figures in the August festivals now believe it is unlikely the events will ever return to their record-breaking scale of 2019, when they sold more than 4m tickets over a four-week run, with well over a million people attending events.
British Airways has furloughed thousands of its staff, citing delays to travel as the reason behind its decision.
The airline confirmed a large number of its workers – including management staff – have been put back onto the scheme, PA reports.
Workers were being brought off furlough ahead of the summer holiday period after the government set May 17 as the date for the restart of international travel.
However, no top holiday destinations are on the green list, meaning travellers returning from places such as France, Spain and Italy must quarantine at home for 10 days.
A large number of BA staff were already on furlough before the latest furlough decision took place, it is understood.
The firm has called for the UK’s government to open international travel “as soon as possible” and add “low-risk” nations such as the US to its green list.
It confirmed reports that more members of staff are to go onto the flexible furlough scheme and work part-time.
A BA spokesman said: ?”Like many companies we’re using the furlough scheme to protect jobs during this unprecedented crisis.
“However, it’s vital the Government follows its risk-based framework to reopen international travel as soon as possible, putting more low-risk countries, like the US, on its green list at the next available opportunity”.