The UK government on Friday formally joined the global Covax initiative, set up to boost the discovery, manufacture, and effective distribution of a vaccine against COVID-19.
UK Business Minister Alok Sharma said the initiative, co-led by Gavi, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), and the World Health Organisation (WHO), will expedite the process for the worldwide search for a vaccine against the deadly virus.
“The global effort to find a safe and effective coronavirus vaccine is not a competition, but is among the most urgent shared endeavours of our lifetime – it benefits us all to be better equipped to fight this virus,” said Sharma.
“That’s why I am delighted to confirm that the United Kingdom will join the global Covax initiative to expedite the discovery, manufacture, and fair distribution of a vaccine to one billion people.
“Today’s landmark agreement complements the various vaccine deals the UK has already made and ensures we have the best chance of accessing a safe and effective vaccine for people in the UK as soon as one becomes available, as well as supporting access in poorer countries,” he said.
Covax, an international initiative to support the discovery, manufacture, and fair distribution of COVID-19 vaccines for 1 billion people by the end of 2021, has sought firm commitments from countries by this month.
It is looking to invest USD 6 billion to secure access to a diverse portfolio of vaccine candidates, currently at different stages of clinical trials around the world.
The UK government said it is working closely with international partners to set up Covax as quickly as possible to ensure it is effective in expediting vaccine development and manufacturing and achieving equitable access.
“The UK will be co-hosting the event of a virtual vaccine with the UN, WHO, and South Africa. Building on the success of the UK-hosted Global Vaccine Summit in June, where we collectively raised USD 8.8 billion, this event will bring together countries and international partners to commit to making sure there is global equitable access to new Covid-19 vaccines, treatments, and testing,” UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said earlier this week, during a visit to the US.
The vaccine event he referred to is set to take place virtually September 30 and will be themed around: Accelerating the end of the Covid-19 pandemic: Taking new solutions to scale and making them equitably accessible, to save lives, protect health systems and restart the global economy.