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UK calls for ceasefires to get vaccines to people in war zones

Britain will today call for temporary ceasefires in wars around the globe to allow for people in conflict zones to be vaccinated against coronavirus.

There are fears that pockets of unvaccinated people in difficult-to-reach areas will not only result in further illness and deaths, but also provide a pool for dangerous new variants to develop.

The UK holds the Security Council presidency this month and is pushing for a resolution to call for temporary ceasefires and co-ordinated action on equitable access to vaccines.

A two-day pause in fighting was used in Afghanistan in 2001 to give 35,000 health workers and volunteers the opportunity to vaccinate 5.7m children under five against polio.

Speaking ahead of Wednesday’s Security Council meeting, Mr Raab said:“Global vaccination coverage is essential to beating coronavirus. 

“That is why the UK is calling for a vaccination ceasefire to allow Covid-19 vaccines to reach people living in conflict zones and for a  greater global team effort to deliver equitable access. 

“We have a moral duty to act, and a strategic necessity to come together to defeat this virus.”

The UK calculates that more than 160 million people are at risk of being excluded from coronavirus vaccinations because of instability and conflict in countries including Yemen, South Sudan, Somalia and Ethiopia.

Britain has contributed £548m towards the Covax scheme, launched at the UK-hosted global vaccine summit last year with the aim of distributing 1.3bn doses of coronavirus vaccines to developing countries this year.

Boris Johnson will set out further details of efforts to drive global access to vaccines at a virtual meeting of leaders of the G7 group of world powers being chaired by the UK on Friday.

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