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Majority of British Public Believes UK Should Share COVID-19 Vaccines: Poll

Why Global Citizens Should Care
The United Nations’ 17 Global Goals set a roadmap to end extreme poverty by 2030. But the COVID-19 pandemic has hugely undermined progress on achieving these goals. The quickest way to end the pandemic and ensure the world gets back on track is to make sure all countries have access to vaccines and a chance to recover, a process that is being thwarted by rich nations hoarding vaccines. To find out more about vaccine equity and take action, join us here.

The COVID-19 pandemic won’t end anywhere unless it ends everywhere.

You might have come across that notion before — whether it’s from following the science, or by taking action on Global Citizen’s campaigns. But seemingly for the first time, it’s also a feeling shared by the general British public, according to a new poll.

In fact, the majority of respondents went further, believing that the UK should immediately share its surplus COVID-19 vaccines to reduce the chances of the virus developing variants that could bring us all back to square one. 

The poll found that 76% agreed that Britain was still at risk while the virus was thriving elsewhere in the world.

And while 67% believed that the UK government should share vaccines right away to prevent new strains emerging, just under two-thirds (64%) agreed that such variants could jeopardise the vaccine rollout.

The poll, which questioned 2,273 people, was jointly commissioned by Global Citizen, Save the Children, the Wellcome Trust, and the ONE Campaign, and published on May 10. The collective are part of the “Crack the Crises” coalition — a group of charities that represent 10 million people in the UK. 

The coalition is calling on UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson to share COVID-19 vaccines, tackle poverty, and do more to fight the climate crisis.

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The global response to the COVID-19 pandemic so far has been beset by vaccine nationalism.

In advance of any vaccine being approved by regulatory authorities, rich countries had already pre-ordered hundreds of millions of doses, meaning that as they progressed through the trials and were approved by regulators, countries like the UK, Canada, and the US had bought enough doses to vaccinate their populations several times over.

On average, 1 in 4 people in high-income nations have already received a COVID-19 vaccine. 

But in low-income countries, it’s closer to 1 in 500. Overall, 80% of all administered jabs have been in high- and upper middle-income countries, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

That means that while over 53 million vaccines have been given in the UK, there are vast swathes of “vaccine deserts” in Africa where many countries, like Chad, Burkina Faso, and Burundi, have received no vaccines whatsoever. 

It’s an issue the British public believes needs to be urgently addressed with global cooperation, according to the coalition's findings.

The study found that 62% felt they were willing to have fit and healthy people in the UK wait for a vaccine so that doctors, nurses, and health care workers around the world can be immunised.

Meanwhile, 70% believe it’s important to support other countries dealing with outbreaks; 70% agreed that world leaders should work together to ensure vaccine equity; and 58% felt it wasn’t fair that rich countries had reserved more vaccines at the expense of poorer countries.

That mission to drive vaccine equity was a central component to VAX Live: The Concert to Reunite the World, a broadcast special hosted by Global Citizen to urge world leaders, philanthropists, and corporations to share vaccines, and commit funding to COVAX, a facility set up by organisations including the WHO to get COVID-19 vaccines to the world’s most marginalised countries.

Related Stories May 8, 2021 'VAX LIVE' Helps Mobilize $302M and More Than 26M COVID-19 Vaccine Doses for World's Most Vulnerable

The event, hosted by Selena Gomez and featuring performances from Jennifer Lopez, Foo Fighters, Pearl Jam’s Eddie Vedder, J Balvin, and H.E.R, helped mobilise $302 million in funding and over 26 million COVID-19 vaccine doses to help provide equitable vaccine access.

"As part of VAX LIVE, Global Citizen called on Boris Johnson to start sharing the UK's 100 million vaccines with low-income countries, via COVAX,” said Marie Rumsby, Global Citizen’s UK country director. “This poll demonstrates that the majority of the British people now support this, but so far the prime minister has not reached the same conclusion.” 

She added: “As hosts of this year's G7, the UK must come forward with an ambitious commitment this June."