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Covid-19 Vaccines

Volume 684: debated on Tuesday 24 November 2020

What steps the Government are taking to help ensure equitable access to covid-19 vaccines for people living in the global south. (909159)

What diplomatic steps the Government are taking to support the development of a covid-19 vaccine (a) in the UK and (b) throughout the world. (909180)

The UK is committed to rapid, equitable access to safe and effective vaccines through multilateral collaboration. We strongly support the COVAX advance market commitment, which is the international initiative to support global equitable access. The UK is the largest bilateral donor to the AMC, having committed up to £548 million to help provide vaccines for up to 92 developing countries. The UK also committed £71 million in non-official development assistance to participate in the COVAX facility for self-financing countries, in order to secure options to vaccines for UK domestic use.

In a pandemic we are only as strong as our weakest link. Is the Minister convinced that, even though we are one of the largest donors, we are doing enough to ensure that developing nations have the infrastructure they need to organise a mass roll-out of the vaccine?

A pandemic response is absolutely what we need to tackle this virus, and that requires global collaboration. The UK strongly supports multilateral approaches so that we can meet both domestic and global needs, and that work goes alongside UK deals with individual vaccine developers. I am sure that, like me, the hon. Lady will welcome AstraZeneca’s commitment to non-profitable access during the pandemic and the fact that AstraZeneca estimates that up to 3 billion doses will be available globally by 2021.

My question follows on from that asked by the hon. Member for Wallasey (Ms Eagle). What specific steps is my hon. Friend the Minister taking to ensure that the UK is at the forefront of providing vaccines to vulnerable countries around the world?

I know how interested so many Members are in the access to and distribution of these incredibly important vaccines as part of our covid-19 response. Our £250 million of funding for the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations is helping to develop vaccine candidates that can be scaled up and accessible for developing countries. Our commitment of up to £548 million to the COVAX AMC will contribute to the target of supplying 1 billion doses for 92 developing countries in 2021 and vaccinations for up to 500 million people. We have also worked with the World Bank to secure up to $12 billion in financing to support developing countries’ access to covid-19 vaccines, treatments and tests.