The UK Government is calling for so-called “vaccine ceasefires” to be declared in conflict zones around the world.
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab made a plea for belligerents in conflicts all over the world to allow health care workers to access and inoculate civilian populations.
Experts say that around 160 million people could be missed by current vaccination efforts as they reside in areas racked with instability and conflict. Nations which are particularly at risk include Yemen, South Sudan, Somalia and Ethiopia.
How is the UK planning to campaign for this?
As a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, the UK is one of the countries which takes up its rotating monthly presidency. It is understood that the UK wishes to use the opportunity of the Security Council presidency to push for better global access to Covid-19 vaccines.
When the council met yesterday (17 February), Mr Raab used the opportunity to lobby for other members to back a motion calling on armistices to be agreed all over the world, as well as protection for healthcare workers involved in vaccinating vulnerable and remote people.
Why is it important for people in conflict zones to be vaccinated?
While there is a clear moral case for supporting efforts to bring the vaccine to as many people around the world as possible, it also makes sense from a practical point of view.
New variants of the virus, which may be resistant to existing vaccines or have a higher mortality rate, are more likely to emerge the more cases of the virus develop.
This means that even if richer, western nations can vaccinate all their populations, potentially new and deadly strains will still be able to develop freely in less developed nations if vaccination efforts aren’t stepped up.
Speaking ahead of the UN 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.”