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Covid-19: Developing Countries

Volume 675: debated on Wednesday 29 April 2020

I would first like to put on record my congratulations and that of all in the House on the safe arrival of the Prime Minister and Carrie Symonds’s son this morning.

With permission, Mr Speaker, I would like to update the House with the following announcement. The coronavirus pandemic shows the vital role that vaccines play in protecting us against disease. The UK is today committing new support to Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance. The UK’s pledge of the equivalent of £330 million a year for the next five years continues our leadership and commitment to global health security. The UK’s pledge will help to ensure the delivery of life-saving vaccinations in 68 countries, saving lives and strengthening health systems. It will therefore help to protect the UK and our NHS from future waves of coronavirus. I look forward to the UK-hosted Vaccine Alliance summit on 4 June, which will help to raise all the funds that Gavi needs to vaccinate 300 million children and save up to 8 million lives.

The United Nations has warned that the world is at risk of widespread famine “of biblical proportions”, with the number suffering from hunger potentially rising from 135 million to 250 million due to coronavirus. What discussions is the Secretary of State having across the international community to work to alleviate this humanitarian catastrophe?

Coronavirus is a global crisis that knows no borders and will have a profound effect on all countries, including the most vulnerable. That is why the UK is leading the international response and providing £744 million of UK aid to counter the health, humanitarian and economic impacts. I have mobilised my Department and our country offices to do whatever it takes to help tackle this pandemic and the secondary risks. We have the funding, the expertise and the British determination to stand by our friends in developing countries to prevent a second wave of infection.

During the coronavirus pandemic, it is imperative that countries and communities engage co-operatively with one another to avoid a scramble to procure goods, personal protective equipment and medical equipment and ensure that there is not a worldwide shortage that prices out the world’s most vulnerable. In the light of the announcement made by the President of the United States about ending funding to the World Health Organisation, can the Secretary of State outline what representations she and her Government have made to him regarding the need to follow collaborative principles, which will benefit us all?

The UK has confidence in the WHO and the work that it is doing globally to bring together every country to do the best they can to look after their communities and citizens. The WHO is co-ordinating PPE for all those countries, and we are supporting it by putting funding into the central pot, so that it can ensure that the countries that are most in need will have the PPE that they require.