UK should be ‘force for good’ as Covax jab rollout begins in Ivory Coast

Michael Howie
·2-min read
<p>An Ivory Coast police officer receives an AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine at the palais des sports in Abidjan </p> (AFP via Getty images)

An Ivory Coast police officer receives an AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine at the palais des sports in Abidjan

(AFP via Getty images)

Dominic Raab has said Britain should be a "force for good in the world" as he heralded the start of the rollout of vaccines under the Covax initiative.

The Foreign Secretary told reporters on Monday: "What we are seeing today is the first mass rollout at Cote d'Ivoire - half a million doses - part of our strategy to get the most vulnerable people in 92 of the developing countries vaccinated by June.

"And that's because we believe Britain should be a force for good in the world but also because we recognise that we are not safe until everyone is safe."

Ivory Coast launched the world's first Covid-19 inoculation drive on Monday with doses imported from the Covax sharing facility, a milestone in the race to extend vaccine access to poorer countries.

Covax, which is led by the GAVI vaccines alliance along with the World Health Organization (WHO) and other partners, aims to deliver over 1.3 billion doses to 92 low- and middle-income countries, covering up to 20 per cent of their populations.

The initiative hopes to level a playing field that has seen wealthier nations vaccinate millions while comparatively few have received shots in poorer parts of the world. Only a handful of African countries have begun inoculating their citizens with vaccines purchased bilaterally or received as donations.

"This is a day many of us have been dreaming of and working for more than 12 months," said WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

Ivory Coast received 504,000 doses of the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine from Covax on Friday. After the first phase, it plans to expand access to people over 50, those with chronic diseases and travellers.

Over a hundred people lined up early on Monday outside the complex in Abidjan's Treichville neighbourhood to receive their first shot.

Meanwhile, Mr Raab also said border restrictions in the UK are "robust" despite the discovery of cases of a Brazilian coronavirus strain.

He said: "The border restrictions, I think, are robust - we keep them under constant review.

"I think variants are the normal feature of any pandemic and any virus."

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