When Covid is published in the history books, we will be able to remember the heroism of our healthcare workers and the genius of our vaccine creators.

Despite their efforts, the world is at a crossroads. We may only be half way through the damage done by Covid.

Covid has already infected 242million people, both children and women. But in the next year alone, ACT-A – the body coordinating diagnostics, vaccines and treatments – expects another 200million cases.

Yesterday’s death total was 4.9million. But, ACT A medical experts have just released a new report. They predict that 5 million more people will die in the next year.

The two-track pandemic is a continuing threat to the health of the world’s leaders, which will meet in Rome this weekend.

Rollout: A Kenyan girl receives a jab of the Covid vaccine in Masai village, southern Kenya. The Covid vaccination rate in the east African country is only 2.8 per cent

Rollout: A Covid vaccination is administered to a Kenyan girl at Masai village, south Kenya. Only 2.8% of the country’s Covid-vaccinated population is from this east African country.

Three-quarters of next year’s cases – 142million – are now expected to occur in the unvaccinated low and middle-income countries.

If we don’t act quickly the disease could spread and mutate. New variants would also be introduced to the home, which could lead to even more severe consequences for those who have been fully vaccinated.

But there are ways forward. By December, the world will have produced a total of 12billion vaccines – enough to offer two shots to every adult.

Only 1% of people in a dozen countries have been vaccinated, compared to 70% in the West.

The figure is only 3% in low-income countries. Only one in ten african health workers has been immunized.

It is so inequitable how vaccines are distributed that, even after we leave aside vaccines for children and allow for boosters or donations to poorer nations, there are still 240million unused vaccines in Western countries.

The stock of unused doses in the 20 richest countries, which is 750million, makes the figure even higher. The stockpile will be 1.75billion by February.

The number of unused Covid vaccine doses in the richest 20 countries is expected to reach 1.75billion by February 2022 (stock image)

The estimated number of unused Covid vaccination doses in the richest 20 nations will reach 1.75 billion by February 2022 (stock illustration).

It is absurd to have produced enough vaccines to immunise all adults. But to keep and hoard vaccines in one part of the world and deny them the other half is a moral outrage. This is the greatest international public policy failure.

Tragically, many millions of doses stored in the thousands will soon be out of date and will need to be destroyed or donated.

100 million vaccines could be lost in the US, Canada and UK by December. The number could rise to 200 million across the G20 by February.

The vaccines must be available to save lives and not sit on shelves collecting dust at a time when two fifths of global health care workers are fully vaccinated.

56 countries have missed the September target of 10 percent vaccinations in all their populations.

500million is the number of additional doses that are required to reach our goal of vaccinations for 40% of every country by the year’s end. But, according to current projections, 82 other countries are at risk of missing this goal.

GORDON BROWN has warned that the low vaccination rate in poorer countries will threaten to breed a Covid variant which could engulf us all

GORDON BROWN warned that the low rates of vaccination in poorer countries could lead to a Covid variant that could sweep us all.

Despite the promise of donations to come, this vaccine inequity will be a scar on the soul of the world unless the countries that hold the vaccines – and still have a near monopoly on future orders – agree to transfer their delivery contracts to those who need them.

These inequalities could be addressed by Saturday’s G20. There should be an immediate airlift of the 240million unused vaccines stocked by the four largest western G20 members – the EU, the US, the UK and Canada – to the global South.

If this happens, then other G20 members who have unused vaccines – Australia (38million unused vaccines) and Korea (43million) as well as China – could be persuaded to switch their delivery contracts to COVAX, the body promoting the vaccine internationally, enabling us to make good the 500million shortfall between now and December.

Then, as manufacturing is ramped up to 2billion doses a month, we can have every reason to expect we will reach 70 per cent of coverage earlier than planned – by June 2022.

The pandemic represents humanity’s greatest test for solidarity, and our generation will be judged based on how many deaths we prevent.

We have all the tools we need to reach our goal of vaccinating 70% of every country by next-year, but only if you act now can you save many of those five million lives whose fate is in your collective hands.