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Global Health Security Update

Volume 677: debated on Monday 8 June 2020

The UK is leading the worldwide fightback against infectious diseases, including coronavirus.

That is why the Prime Minister hosted the global vaccine summit last week to raise funding for vaccinations that will save millions of lives in the poorest countries and protect the world from future outbreaks of infectious diseases.

Bringing together world leaders and representatives from 62 countries, private sector organisations and civil society, the Global Vaccine Summit raised an historic $8.8 billion for Gavi, exceeding our fundraising target of $7.4 billion.

Just as the UK is the single biggest donor to the international effort to find a coronavirus vaccine, I am incredibly proud that we are the biggest donor to Gavi, the vaccine alliance. The UK has pledged £1.65 billion over the next five years, which will vaccinate up to 75 million children from infectious diseases, saving almost 2 million lives.

The funding raised from 32 donors also included generous pledges from countries such as Germany, United States, Saudi Arabia, France, Netherlands and Sweden, $1.6 billion from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and $61 million from the private sector.

In a great demonstration of global collaboration, the world has sufficiently invested in Gavi for the next five years. The global vaccine summit is an example of what we can accomplish when we come together.

This support for Gavi will immunise 300 million more children in the world’s poorest countries against diseases like measles, polio and diphtheria by the end of 2025, will save up to 8 million lives and prevent needless child deaths.

People who are vaccinated protect themselves and the rest of the population by lowering the spread and risk of infection. Gavi’s work on routine immunisation is the strongest shield against outbreaks of infectious killer diseases.

It will also help ensure our global recovery from coronavirus. By vaccinating millions of children against other deadly diseases, we are protecting fragile healthcare systems in the world’s poorest countries so they can cope with rising coronavirus cases.

This will ultimately help prevent future waves of infectious diseases spreading around the world, including to the UK.

Vaccines work and this funding matters. Generous support from the British people to Gavi has already helped immunise more than 760 million children in the world’s poorest countries, saving over 13 million lives.

Gavi’s market shaping efforts to make life-saving vaccines more accessible and affordable have seen a 21% price reduction for fully immunising a child with pentavalent, pneumococcal and rotavirus vaccines - from $20.01 in 2015 to $15.90 in 2018. The UK can be proud of the part we’ve played in this price reduction.

The UK has also been a founding donor of the successful advance market commitment which has so far protected the lives of over 700,000 children from deadly pneumonia infections. We welcome Gavi’s leadership and offered our full support to their new coronavirus fund with a $60 million commitment from the UK to help speed up access to a vaccine when it’s ready.

But the Global Vaccine Summit was just the beginning, we can do so much more.

The World Health Organisation estimates that 80 million children under one have had routine immunisation disrupted by the pandemic. The UK’s support to Gavi will make sure that routine immunisation is not interrupted as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, and that everyone has access to lifesaving vaccinations.

Gavi, with UK support, is also addressing the immediate needs triggered by coronavirus, including by providing essential medical supplies and helping to increase testing and surveillance of the disease.

To defeat coronavirus, we must focus our collective ingenuity on the search for a vaccine. And in the future, Gavi will have a crucial role in the delivery of a coronavirus vaccine. It is already working hard with partners to make sure a safe and effective coronavirus vaccine would be affordable and delivered around the world.

No one is safe from coronavirus until we are all safe.

The UK has already committed up to £764 million for the global coronavirus response. Some of the most promising research into vaccines is happening here, supported by our vaccine taskforce. And we are pioneering the innovative collaborations that will be needed to manufacture and distribute a vaccine, once found, like the partnership between AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford.

But this demands a truly global effort.

As the Prime Minister said, the global vaccine summit was a moment when the world came together to unite humanity in the fight against disease.