UK leads way as nations endorse landmark pledge to make coronavirus vaccines and treatments available to all

Countries from around the world today (Friday, 24 April) joined the UK in pledging to give everyone equal access to new coronavirus vaccines and treatments around the world. The move is aimed at boosting global supply of the vaccine, once one is approved for use, to help prevent a second wave of the pandemic.

At the World Health Organization virtual launch event today, First Secretary of State Dominic Raab joined the UN Secretary General, World Health Organization (WHO) Director General and the leaders from the 20 countries, including France, South Africa and Malaysia to pledge the UK’s support for the new “COV-access agreement”.

This is an unprecedented global agreement between international health organisations and countries. It follows calls from the UK for the countries to work together, including at last month’s G20 meeting.

The UK is one of the biggest supporters of the global effort to find a coronavirus vaccine, providing £250 million to international research on the disease to the Centre for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations. It is also one of the biggest supporters of the WHO and Gavi, the Global Vaccine Alliance, which distributes vaccines in the poorest countries.

UK scientists at Oxford and Imperial College London Universities are also leading efforts to develop a working vaccine. Human trials started this week in Oxford, and the government has given £42.5 million in funding to support clinical trials at both institutions.

The UK confirmed today that it will co-host a Coronavirus Global Response Summit on 4 May, aiming to raise £7 billion to develop vaccines, treatments and tests to help end the coronavirus pandemic.

It was also announced that the UK will host the major the Global Vaccines Summit virtually on the 4th June, to ensure Gavi is fully funded and at the heart of our efforts to ensure equitable access for any vaccine.

Speaking to other leaders in a video message alongside the UN Secretary General and WHO Director General this afternoon First Secretary of State Dominic Raab said:

The UK is already one of the biggest donors to the international COVID-19 response, and today we are proud to support the WHO’s Call to Action to bring global health partners together to accelerate progress toward a vaccine.

Video message from UN Secretary General, WHO Director General and First Secretary of State Dominic Raab

International Development Secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan said:

British expertise and funding is already leading efforts to find a coronavirus vaccine and treatments, which will save lives in the UK and around the world.

Following calls from the Prime Minister it is great to see other nations working collectively in the fight against coronavirus.

Making sure vaccines, treatments, technologies are available in the most vulnerable countries is vital to ending the pandemic – keeping us, and the rest of the world safe from future infections.

“COV-access agreement”
The new commitment in the agreement follow continued international lobbying from the UK for more global co-operation on the pandemic, including at last week’s G20 finance and World Bank meetings, and includes pledges to:

Provide access to new treatments, technologies and vaccines across the world
Commit to an unprecedented level of international partnership on research and coordinate efforts to tackle the pandemic and reduce infections
Reach collective decisions on responding to the pandemic, recognising that the virus’ spread in one country can affect all countries
Learn from experience and adapt the global response
Be accountable, to the most vulnerable communities and the whole world.
As part of this agreement the WHO also announced the appointment of two new Special Envoys to lead global co-operation on vaccine research and help ensure equal access to any successful vaccines. Sir Andrew Witty, the British former head of global drugs giant GSK was appointed alongside Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Board Chair of Gavi.

A new “COV-access Hub” was also announced by the WHO to support co-operation on the research, development and production of new vaccines, treatments and technologies to fight coronavirus.