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Oxford vaccine creator calls for donations to help people in poorer countries receive a jab

PIC: Yui Mok / PA WIRE

Professor Sarah Gilbert is backing a new campaign launching today, called Arm in Arm.

The co-creator of the Oxford vaccine has called on people to give money to support coronavirus vaccination in poorer countries.

A new campaign asks people in the UK to give money to the World Health Organisation COVID-19 relief fund when they receive the date for their coronavirus vaccination.

Professor Sarah Gilbert, the woman who helped designed the Oxford jab, said "We produced and developed the Oxford vaccine as a vaccine for the world. We are happy to support a new initiative to get COVID vaccines to as many people as possible."

Professor Gilbert is the latest major scientific and public health figure to draw attention to the risk of vaccine inequality, amid rising fears that poorer countries will not be able to get access to coronavirus vaccines.

Her call comes as the latest official figures suggested that the government was likely to hit its target of offering a vaccine to all the people in the top four priority groups by 15 February.

Figures released on Sunday showed that more than 15 million people had already received one dose of a coronavirus vaccine, although not all of them will necessarily be part of the top four cohorts.

Although this means that a large fraction of the UK population now has some protection against the worst effects of the virus, experts backing the Arm in Arm campaign have warned "no country is protected until all countries are".

"We need to come together again, in a spirit of solidarity, to vaccinate the world because no country is protected until all countries are," said Martin McKee, Professor of European Public Health at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

The campaign is being supported by the University of East Anglia. It has been started by a lecturer there, Dr Kirstin Smith.

"I believe there are a lot of people who would like to support the global response, express their gratitude for being vaccinated, and join the call for fair vaccine distribution across the world," said Dr Smith.

"At this moment, many are isolated. It's hard to feel connected, not only to your own society but also across international borders. But to tackle a pandemic, we have to be able to imagine a global community and act as one."

The campaign calls on people to donate to the WHO COVID-19 Response Solidarity Fund when they receive the date for their vaccination.

The fund supports PPE for critical care workers, vaccine research, treatment and support for vulnerable people.

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