UK provides GBP210M to develop COVID-19 vaccine

Aziz Idris

The United Kingdom (UK) is leading international efforts to find a coronavirus vaccine, as the largest donor to the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovation’s (CEPI) coronavirus appeal.

Thanks to this investment, future coronavirus vaccines will be made available at the lowest possible price to health services worldwide.

British High Commissioner to Brunei Darussalam Richard Lindsay said, “The UK is providing GBP210 million to assist UK-based researchers and scientists rapidly develop a COVID-19 vaccine, tests and treatment. Developing a vaccine is an essential step to combating the global spread of the coronavirus pandemic.”

AstraZeneca and University of Oxford have also announced on April 30, an agreement for the global development and distribution of the University’s potential recombinant adenovirus vaccine aimed at preventing COVID-19 infection.

The collaboration aims to bring to patients the potential vaccine known as ChAdOx1 nCoV-19, which is being developed by the Jenner Institute and Oxford Vaccine Group, at the University of Oxford. Under the agreement, AstraZeneca would be responsible for development and worldwide manufacturing and distribution of the vaccine.

UK Business Secretary Alok Sharma said, “This collaboration between University of Oxford and AstraZeneca is a vital step that could help rapidly advance the manufacture of a coronavirus vaccine. It will also ensure that, should the vaccine being developed by University of Oxford’s Jenner Institute work, it will be available soon, helping to protect thousands of lives from this disease.”

File photo of British High Commissioner to Brunei Darussalam Richard Lindsay

The UK has also pledged GBP330 million per year over the next five years to Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, to help fund the immunisation of 75 million children to protect them from deadly diseases.

The High Commissioner said, “By vaccinating millions of children against other deadly diseases, the UK is supporting the world’s poorest countries so that they can cope with rising coronavirus cases.”

The announcement comes as the UK announced that the Global Vaccine Summit on June 4 will go ahead as a virtual summit, hosted by Prime Minister Boris Johnson. It will bring countries together, to follow the UK’s lead, in stepping up to fund Gavi’s work to save millions of lives and help prevent and address future pandemics.

The UK has been a longstanding donor to Gavi since its formation in 2000. With the support of over 25 other countries such as Norway, Italy and the United States (US), the Vaccine Alliance has since immunised over 760 million children, saving over 13 million lives.

UK International Development Secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan said, “The coronavirus pandemic shows us now more than ever the vital role vaccines play in protecting us all. As coronavirus vaccine trials begin, we need to make sure successful vaccine is available to everyone.”

Co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Bill Gates said, “When the world beats the COVID-19 pandemic and life returns to normal, Gavi – and the UK’s support of it – will be a major reason. Gavi has spent the last 20 years delivering vaccines to the world’s poorest countries.

“They’ve been incredibly effective, and with this new funding, they’ll be able to continue their work when a COVID-19 vaccine is ready.

“Today, the UK is being generous and thinking global, which also happens to be the best way to fight the disease.”