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Science and Technology: International Development

Volume 687: debated on Tuesday 19 January 2021

Scientific advances funded by the UK have helped drive reductions in extreme poverty, declines in childhood mortality and increases in life expectancy across the developing world. Our investments, including in affordable rapid diagnostic tests for covid-19 and the world’s first child-friendly antimalarial drug, are delivering benefit to hundreds of millions. We will continue to leverage UK and global scientific excellence and invest in cutting-edge technology and research to provide solutions to critical development challenges.

The Government are doing extremely well in rolling out the vaccine in the UK. The AstraZeneca vaccine in particular is potentially deployable in developing countries. Will the Minister say at what point we will pass vaccines that we have ordered that greatly surpass the need of our population to COVAX? Does he agree that it is vital that, in advance of that, we do everything in our power to develop healthcare infrastructure in developing countries, without which a credible vaccine roll-out is just not possible?

I thank my right hon. Friend for his question. I agree that we should be incredibly proud of the work that we have done with regard to the vaccine.

I have had meetings with my Philippine counterparts on vaccines, alongside AstraZeneca. We are supporting equitable access through our funding for the COVAX facility. We are one of the largest donors to the COVAX advance market commitment to support access for 92 developing countries; we have committed £548 million. COVAX’s partners, which include Gavi, the World Health Organisation and UNICEF, have huge experience in supporting developing country immunisation systems and the programming of immunisation. We expect the initial roll-out to COVAX AMC countries to start in the first quarter of this year.