Britain will lend South Korea 1MILLION spare Covid jabs

Britain will lend South Korea 1MILLION spare doses of Pfizer’s Covid vaccine in the coming weeks in a swap deal that will see UK paid back by the end of the year

  • South Korea will send a million Covid jabs to the UK by the end of this year
  • It comes after the UK said it would swap four million Pfizer jabs to Australia
  • Both countries have faced anaemic roll outs hit by regular supply problems

Britain is set to lend a million spare doses of the Pfizer Covid vaccine to South Korea to bolster the country’s roll out, the Department of Health has said. 

Officials admitted there was no ‘immediate need’ for the doses in the UK because they had received so many jabs.

They added that the plan would not derail the booster drive, or the roll out to 12 to 15-year-olds.

The deal comes two weeks after the UK agreed to send four million Pfizer jabs to Australia. 

Both South Korea and Australia have struggled with anaemic vaccine roll outs in the face of delays to deliveries and the failure to secure enough jabs early.

Neither has double-jabbed more than 50 per cent of its adults. For comparison, the UK has fully inoculated almost eight in ten over-16s — or 44million people. 

Britain has ordered more than 500million doses of Covid vaccines, enough to double-jab the population four times over.

It is expecting to receive 100million Pfizer doses by the end of this year, according to supply agreements. Some 40million Britons have already received the jab. 

Under the ‘vaccine swap’ announced today the UK will send a million Pfizer doses to South Korea, with the first shipment set to leave in the coming weeks.

The Asian nation will then return the same number of Pfizer doses later this year. 

The deal mirrors that struck with Australia, which has agreed to send four million Pfizer jabs to the UK by the end of this year. 

Millions of Britons could be offered a third Covid vaccine in September.

A decision from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation’s (JCVI) about who should get a third dose is due by next month.

In interim guidance published in June, it set out framework for who should be considered:

Who could be offered a third Covid vaccine?

  • All over-50s
  • Frontline health and social care workers 
  • People who are vulnerable to the virus
  • Adults living with vulnerable people 

How might the booster programme work?

Should the ‘booster’ programme go ahead, it will see third doses dished out in two stages. 

In stage one third jabs will be offered to:

  • All over-70s
  • Over-16s who are vulnerable to the virus 
  • People living in care homes for older adults
  • Frontline health and social care workers 

And in stage two third jabs will be offered to:

  • All over-50s
  • Adults aged 16 to 49 who are vulnerable to flu
  • Adults living with suppressed individuals such as those receiving cancer treatment

Health Secretary Sajid Javid said the deal would not have an impact on the UK’s vaccine programme.

‘By working closely with our friends in South Korea, this vaccine swap will maximise their rollout speed without having an impact on the UK’s vaccine programme,’ he said.

‘Separately, we continue to deliver on our commitment to donate 100million doses to nations around the world by June 2022 to ensure as many people across the world are as safe from Covid as possible.’

Newly appointed Foreign Secretary Liz Truss added: ‘The UK is playing a leading role in the global response to the Covid pandemic – donating 100million vaccine doses across the world and have committed £548m to COVAX.

‘The Republic of Korea is a strategic partner for the UK and the sharing of one million vaccines benefits both countries as we help build resistance against Covid and save lives.’

Ms Truss was appointed Foreign Secretary in the cabinet reshuffle this month, taking over from Dominic Raab following criticism of the UK’s withdrawal from Afghanistan.

Britain is set to receive 100million doses of the Pfizer vaccine by the end of this year, and has another 35million on order due in the second half of 2022.

At the height of the inoculation drive in late April the UK was dishing out around 500,000 Covid jabs a day.

But recently the inoculation drive has slowed to a crawl — with less than 80,000 doses being rolled out daily — as most Britons have received the vaccine.

The drive has been expanded to dish out booster shots, but MailOnline analysis showed only 1.6million people are currently eligible for them.

The third shots should only be given from six months after the second dose, the Government’s vaccine advisers have said.

Children aged 12 to 15-years-old are also now recommended to get one dose of either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine. The age group includes less than 5million people.

In South Korea less than 50 per cent of adults have got two doses of a vaccine, while in Australia just 36.4 per cent are fully inoculated.

South Korea’s vaccination efforts were hampered by regular shipment delays, leading to uncertainty over the country’s supply.

In Australia authorities bet on a home-grown Covid vaccine that failed during clinical trials. 

The first shipment of 292,000 Covid vaccines has already been sent to Australia, with more deliveries scheduled.

The country’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the first doses were ‘on the tarmac’ when he announced the deal at the start of September.

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