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The Independent UK

World complacent on Covid, warns Gordon Brown

PA Wire

Gordon Brown has warned that the world has become “complacent” about Covid and risks “sleepwalking” into the next variant if vaccinations, testing and treatment in low-income countries are not increased.

Speaking to the BBC, he said it’s up to wealthier countries to share the financial burden of treating Covid.

The former UK prime minister’s comments come ahead of a virtual international Covid summit at the White House on Thursday, which US President Joe Biden is set to host.

Mr Brown, who is a World Health Organization (WHO) ambassador on health finance described the numbers as “shocking”.

“Only 11 per cent have been vaccinated in low-income countries and we set a target of 70 per cent,” he said.

“Tragically, we are sleepwalking into the next variant, and political leaders are still not listening to the medical advice that is still there – that we’ve got to increase vaccination, continue to test at a high level, and provide the new treatments available.”

If wealthier countries do not act now and pay what is needed, they may have to pay the cost of this later if a deadlier variant emerges in poorer countries and is detected too late, said Mr Brown.

He added that daily testing in low-income countries was only averaging five tests per 100,000 people, instead of the aim of 100 per 100,000, as recommended by the WHO.

Mr Brown and other former leaders have written to Mr Biden to keep up the momentum on the global vaccination push. This comes after Congress failed to approve critical funds of $5bn (£4bn) set aside to cover costs related to the pandemic, which campaigners fear could lead other countries to follow similar action.

Mr Brown said: “I think the Americans have forgotten that if they take no action, then the virus will spread from places that are least vaccinated and least protected, and it will come back to haunt them - even if they’ve been vaccinated four times.”