This statement is a retrospective notification to the House of Commons following accounting advice that the initial phase of this transaction should be classified as a gift. It is normal practice that when a Department proposes to make a gift of a value exceeding £300,000, a minute is presented to the House of Commons setting out particulars of the gift.
In September 2021, the UK Government announced initiatives to share 4 million Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine doses with Australia and 1 million doses with the Republic of Korea. This arrangement was mutually beneficial and ensured these Pfizer/BioNTech doses—which were not immediately required in the UK—were used to support international vaccination efforts. The same volume of doses were returned later in the year. Sharing doses meant those countries had immediate access to vaccines they could put to use in their domestic campaigns and enabled the UK to better align timings of our own supply with our requirements.
The vaccine taskforce has worked to optimise supply for UK domestic need through its close work with vaccine developers, as well as supporting the global distribution of vaccines with our international partners. The reciprocal dose sharing arrangements with Australia and South Korea is an example where we have worked with other countries in a mutually beneficial way to achieve this.
HM Treasury has approved the decision.