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British government is ‘letting the rest of the world down’ in Covid leadership, WHO says

THE British government is “letting the rest of the world down” in its leadership on Covid-19, a World Health Organisation (WHO) representative told British MPs.

Speaking to the all-party parliamentary group on coronavirus on Tuesday evening, special envoy for access to Covid-19 tools accelerator Dr Ayoade Alakija said that the British government must “stop obfuscating, stop gaslighting the public,” and understand that the virus remains a real threat.

She said: “The actions and the message that has been sent within England also reverberates around the world.

“The leadership has let Britain down and the leadership is letting the rest of the world down. The British government should start thinking globally.

“It is time to put the big-boy pants on and to realise that there is global influence, that it can help shift the course not just of this pandemic but get us in that dynamic stage of readiness for the next pandemic.”

Professor Martin Antonio of the London School of Health and Tropical Medicine told MPs that he had struggled to see the government’s slogan of “global Britain” translate into action when it came to the pandemic and raised questions as to whether or not it was supporting international efforts enough.

The parliamentary group’s vice-chairwoman and Green MP Caroline Lucas said: “It is clear that the British government is not doing anywhere near enough to meet its international obligations to help ensure equal access to Covid-19 vaccines across the world. 

“Having spent months lurching from scandal to scandal, it appears that the government has taken its eye off the ball and is now at risk of doing real damage to both the global pandemic recovery effort and Britain’s reputation abroad.”

The government was also criticised for being the last country to withdraw opposition to waiving patent rights for Covid-19 vaccines at the World Trade Organisation.

Dr Kit Yates of the University of Bath called it “sort of embarrassing.”

He said: “As it stands, it looks like too little and certainly too late as well.

“I don’t think that we’ve distinguished ourselves on the international stage.

“Huge swathes of the world’s population remain unvaccinated.”

The group is conducting a cross-party parliamentary inquiry into the government’s handling of the pandemic and has so far held over 30 hearings and made over 50 recommendations.

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