Global generosity is suddenly big news.

Today Tory rebels have a good chance of restoring the foreign aid budget.

A face-saving compromise – restricting the cut to this "difficult" year only – has been circulating over the weekend, with Matt Hancock insisting the loss of £4 billion was always going to be temporary.

Aye right.

Meanwhile Boris Johnson is limbering up for this weekend’s G7 summit in Cornwall, by announcing the whole world should be vaccinated by the end of 2022 and Britain will "send 100 million jabs abroad" to get the ball rolling.

Global Britain in action?

Not really.

On Covid-related generosity and far-sightedness (as with so many other things), Boris giveth and Boris taketh away.

First of all, vaccination by 2023 is far too late. Hundreds of thousands folk will have died, economies will be destroyed and dangerous variants given the space to develop and spread.

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Delay is only necessary because world leaders are ignoring another proposal from the People’s Vaccine Alliance. Namely that vaccine manufacturers suspend Intellectual Property (IP) rights and patent protection and let the developing world get on with helping itself.

Countries with cash like Vietnam can’t buy supplies from the west. India – currently recording four thousand deaths a day – is in talks with suppliers but no vaccines will be allocated until October at the earliest, according to the BBC. This is the scandal the G7 could tackle on Boris Johnson’s watch.

But it won’t.

Instead, Britain will pat itself on the back for promising a large sounding number of vaccines (a pledge mind you, not immediate shipping). But even 100 million jags delivered tomorrow would be utterly inadequate to the task in hand.

According to Dr Mohga Kamal-Yanni, who advises the People’s Vaccine Coalition, at the current rate of 4.6 million jags a day, the world’s rich citizens will be fully vaccinated by January 8th. At just 63,000 jags per day in poor countries, full protection will take a staggering 57 years to achieve. Or never.

So, Britain’s 100 million jags is almost a smokescreen. It means next to nothing for a country like India with 1.36 billion citizens. Ironically India is in the top three countries for the absolute number of jags delivered. But that total has only fully vaccinated 3.2 per cent of its citizens, so vast is the sub-continent and its variant-threatened neighbours.

India is trying to help itself but of the eight vaccines currently under production there, only three are approved for use. India also experienced raw material shortages when President Biden halted exports to give US vaccine makers priority access. And some Indian companies were actually exporting vaccines until March.

So, well-meaning donations won’t plug the gap. But a massive, immediate increase in production would – if local companies in developing nations could get manufacturing.

The Indonesian Health Minister told a WHO event last week his country is ready to produce 500 million vaccine doses a year. Why can’t they get on with it?

Because Big Pharma has a monopoly on knowledge and intellectual property rights, even though these are largely the product of long-term, taxpayer-funded research.

But taxpayers are happy to leave it to governments and governments are happy to leave decisions about the supply, allocation and price of vaccines to Big Pharma.

Non-intervention has helped nine people become vaccine billionaires since the Covid pandemic started. The People’s Vaccine Alliance (Global Justice Now, Oxfam and UNAIDS) calculate that the nine has a combined net wealth of $19.3 billion thanks to profits from monopolies and could finance the full vaccination of everyone in the world’s low-income countries 1.3 times over.

Anticipating the obscenity of these profits, Joe Biden surprised many last month when he backed proposals from South Africa and India at the World Trade Organisation to temporarily break up these Covid vaccine monopolies and lift the patents – a move supported by over 100 developing countries. But G7 nations like the UK and Germany have blocked it and Big Pharma has been fighting back against the “Trips waiver”. Pfizer’s CEO has predicted it will “unleash a scramble [where] entities with little or no experience in manufacturing vaccines chase the very raw materials we require to scale our production, putting the safety and security of all at risk”.

Scaremongering or sensible?

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The G7 would be the ideal place to decide – and the "unprecedented nature" of the global crisis could surely justify this agenda change.

The far from radical International Monetary Fund, World Bank Group, World Health Organisation and World Trade Organisation last week demanded $50 billion investment in manufacturing capacity and the equitable distribution of diagnostics, oxygen, treatments, medical supplies and vaccines.

And the G7 has just demonstrated it can move at lightning speed when the reward is a global corporation tax imposed on Big Tech companies. Market intervention is clearly possible when a cash windfall is in the offing.

But with the chance of a human windfall, saving hundreds of thousands of lives – it’s back to no can do.

Is this the reputation G7 leaders want for themselves – the men and women who could have prevented world suffering but wouldn’t discuss it, even at a time like this?

The British Government does acknowledge the "unprecedented impact" of Covid – but only to justify foreign aid budget cuts that will leave 100,000 refugees without water and girls without education. Cruel, according to Bob Geldof, and self-harming since both aid programmes drive higher health standards and greater vaccination acceptance. American administered polio vaccines in the 1990s almost eradicated that disease, until rumours circulated in Northern Nigeria that the jags were sterilising the population.

Hearts and minds matter because successful vaccination programmes rely on so much more than needles.

Countries with under-developed and devastated health services need support to administer the jags, care for infected people and finance those who will otherwise work – while infected – because they face starvation.

According to Bloomberg, Brexit will cost British citizens £203bn by the end of 2021.

The "uncut" foreign aid budget was £14.5bn a year.

So, let’s get that cut reversed – and the "Trips waiver" on to the G7 agenda.

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