88-year-old Trevor Cowlett receives the Oxford University/AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine from nurse Sam Foster at the Churchill Hospital in Oxford as the NHS increases its vaccination programme with 530,000 doses of the newly approved jab available for rollout across the UK on January 4, 2021 in London, England. (Photo by Steve Parsons - WPA Pool/Getty Images)

Britain is racing to meet the target of vaccinating the whole of its adult population by the end of July before it can start exporting surplus Covid jabs to neighbour countries, business secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said on Tuesday (March 30).

In the fastest vaccine rollout in Europe, more than 30 million Britons have received their first dose of a vaccine. This has led to a public spat involving Britain and the European Union over the supply of doses, where the vaccine rollout has been much slower amid a third wave of the pandemic.

“I think our focus has to be to try and keep Britain safe, we want to work cooperatively as well with other countries but the main priority is to get the vaccine rollout,” Kwarteng told Sky News.

Kwarteng said it is not “a competitive situation” and Britain is working with European nations to ensure vaccination of their populations.

When asked if Britain would be in a situation to help neighbour countries such as Ireland. “If there are surplus vaccine doses then we can share them but there are no surpluses at the moment, we have still got a huge number to vaccinate,” Kwarteng said.

Britain has agreed deals to buy tens of millions of shots from a number of suppliers and on Monday GlaxoSmithKline announced details of plans for the final part of the manufacturing process for up to 60 million doses of Novavax’s vaccine for use in Britain.

Prime minister Boris Johnson is one of the 23 leaders who on Tuesday (March 30) backed the idea to create an international treaty to help the world work together to deal with future health emergencies.

“Today we’ve got a crisis upon us, and it’s absolutely right that we should be focused on trying to deal with that in our own country and keeping our people safe, so that we can get back to a normal way of life,” Kwarteng also said.

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