The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted global livelihoods, routine health services and education, and officially caused the deaths of over 6 million people, with WHO estimates putting that figure at approximately 15 million when taking both direct and indirect deaths into account. This report outlines and assesses some of the UK Government’s decisions when responding to the COVID-19 pandemic internationally. It explores how the UK pre-ordered excessive quantities of COVID-19 vaccines to the detriment of access in low- and middle-income countries, and continues to impede a temporary waiver on intellectual property rights to upscale manufacture of COVID-19 tools. It is argued that these, and many other detrimental decisions, were influenced by paternalism, outdated stereotypes and racism, and decision-making lacked genuine consultation with affected communities and civil society. Future pandemic preparedness planning should learn lessons from the COVID-19 pandemic response and centre on equity and global solidarity. The report concludes with a number of key recommendations for the UK Government, including the recommendation that the terms of reference of the COVID-19 inquiry be broadened to include evaluating the UK’s role in the international response. 

Image Credit: Nurses delivering Covishield Vaccinations to local vaccination points, in the Sunderbarn / India. © Benedikt v.Loebell 2022 Gavi