The Guardian

Morpeth leads way on Covid vaccines

- Josh Halliday Maya Wolfe-Robinson

the birthplace of the suffragett­e Emily Wilding Davison. But now Morpeth, in the southern tip of Northumber­land, can claim to be leading the way on Covid vaccines.

More than 90% of adults in the market town have received two jabs – the highest of anywhere its size in England – while Northumber­land has the highest proportion of fully vaccinated residents in the country.

It means vulnerable people in Morpeth will be among the first in line when the NHS begins introducin­g booster jabs next week, a move announced by the health secretary, Sajid Javid, yesterday.

David Bawn, the Conservati­ve mayor of Morpeth, was certain the boosters would be taken up as eagerly. “We’re very sensible here,” he said. “We do weigh things up but we do realise how important it is to get on with normality.”

However, he said it was worrying that only 3% of adults in Africa had been fully vaccinated, and the UK should do more. “We have the resources to live up to and exceed our internatio­nal obligation­s,” he said. “It’s one thing to be able to go to your local coffee shop again, but for businesses to trade across borders – that’s true opening up.”

The UK has promised to donate 80m doses to the internatio­nal sharing scheme, Covax. However, it has reportedly delivered only 5m of these, just 6.4%. The World Health Organizati­on has said almost all of Africa’s 54 nations are set to miss the goal of vaccinatin­g the most vulnerable 10% of people by the end of September.

Ann Turnbull, shopping in Morpeth, agreed more should be done to help other countries: “I think we should be doing it now.”

Tony Snaith, 61, said vaccinatin­g people in other countries would help prevent new variants, which could otherwise make their way to the UK. “They need to catch up because it’s a global pandemic, isn’t it – it’s not just here.”

One business owner said it was “not really humane” for wealthy nations to buy up a huge share of the vaccine.“It’s terribly sad. I think we’re very fortunate to be able to have as much vaccine as we do and I get really frustrated when I hear that a lot of it is going out of date. That could have been shared abroad,” she said, questionin­g why wealthy nations had not come up with a more ambitious package to share vaccines at the G7 event in Cornwall this summer.

Christine Greaves, 65, agreed there should be an “internatio­nal summit” to sort out vaccinatio­ns worldwide, but was also “very, very happy” to be having a booster jab. She lives in Blackpool, which has England’s highest coronaviru­s rates, and has a health condition.

Lisa Robins, a care home manager, whose staff and residents will be in the first cohort for booster jabs, welcomed the programme “with open arms”. She said there was a moral duty to do everything possible “to protect our residents and our families”.

 ?? PHOTOGRAPH: CHRISTOPHE­R THOMOND/ THE GUARDIAN ?? Ann Turnbull, left, shopping with Eleanor Bilton, said the UK should be helping others
PHOTOGRAPH: CHRISTOPHE­R THOMOND/ THE GUARDIAN Ann Turnbull, left, shopping with Eleanor Bilton, said the UK should be helping others

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