G7 nations should pledge £22billion a year as part of a "Herculean" push for global coronavirus vaccination, Gordon Brown said today.

The former Prime Minister called for the mass inoculation of the world to be the main focus of June's G7 summit in Cornwall.

US President Joe Biden is expected to attend, along with the other G7 leaders from Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the EU.

Mr Brown said leaders must spearhead a "Herculean mobilisation" of pharmaceutical companies, national militaries and health workers to reach the "greatest number of people in the shortest time across the widest geography."

He told the BBC: “No-one's going to be safe anywhere until everybody is safe everywhere.

An elderly man gets inoculated by medical staff with the Covishield vaccine in Mumbai
An elderly man gets inoculated by medical staff with the Covishield vaccine in Mumbai

“If we can't vaccinate in 2021 or 2022 or 2023 in the poorest countries, the disease is going to spread, it's going to mutate, it's going to come back to destroy lives and livelihoods in our own country.

“It's not an act of charity to do this, it's in our national self-interest – there's economic gain and of course lives are saved.”

Mr Brown added: “By acting globally we help ourselves locally.”

Vaccines are currently shared internationally under the World Health Organisation-backed Covax programme, which is working to provide vaccines for low and middle-income countries.

However, the former Labour leader said the issue was “shortage of money to pay for them" rather than the number of vaccines.

Airport workers transfer COVID-19 vaccines at the Kotoka International Airport in Accra, capital of Ghana
Airport workers transfer COVID-19 vaccines at the Kotoka International Airport in Accra, capital of Ghana

"Immunising the West but only a fraction of the developing world is already fuelling allegations of 'vaccine apartheid', and will leave Covid-19 spreading, mutating and threatening the lives and livelihoods of us all for years to come,” he wrote in the Guardian.

"We need to spend now to save lives, and we need to spend tomorrow to carry on vaccinating each year until the disease no longer claims lives.

“And this will require at least $30bn (£22bn) a year – a bill no-one so far seems willing to fully underwrite."

He said that “if the G7 came together in June to fund mass vaccination, by 2025 their economies would be at least $500bn better off”.

The Government's former Chief Scientific Adviser Sir David King, told Sky News: "Wherever there is disease, we know there is a risk – it is in our self-interest to get vaccination occurring around the world.

"Wherever it occurs in the world, whatever we do, it will arrive here.”