By Chiemelie Ezeobi
The UK Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, will on Thursday, June 4 host the Global Vaccine Summit in a bid to raise 7.4 billion dollars.
Johnson is expected to bring together leaders from around the world at a virtual event to pledge their support to Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance.
The summit is to garner pledges to protect a further 300 million children against infectious diseases like measles, typhoid and polio.
According to the Press & Public Affairs Officer | British Deputy High Commission, Lagos, Ms Ndidiamaka Eze, the Global Vaccine Summit aims to raise at least US$7.4 billion to help Gavi save up to eight million lives.
In a statement made available to THISDAY she said: “As hosts, the UK is continuing its global leadership on tackling preventable deaths and stopping the spread of COVID-19.
“This builds on our recent role as co-lead for the Global COVID-19 Response Initiative, with Japan, Germany, France, Canada, Norway, Italy, Spain, Saudi Arabia and the European Commission, which successfully raised 7.4 billion euros toward vaccines, tests and treatment to tackle the virus at the COVID-19 Global Response International Pledging Conference on May 4.
“At that conference the UK pledged £388 million which is made up of support we have announced for new vaccines, tests and treatments.
“This includes £250 million to the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations to research a coronavirus vaccine – the biggest contribution of any country to this fund.
“Another £40 million to support the Global Therapeutics Accelerator, a fund for the rapid development of coronavirus treatments.
“Also £23 million to support the Foundation for Innovative New Diagnostics to develop rapid tests for the virus to help identify and slow its spread.
“And £75 million for the World Health Organisation to help them support countries who have weak healthcare systems.”
She added that the UK was collaborating with their international partners on the global effort to find a vaccine as soon as possible and ensure it’s available across the world, including in Nigeria.
“We are working closely with industry and the Bioindustry Association to accelerate vaccine development and manufacturing in the UK, so that when a vaccine is available, it can be made quickly at scale.
“We are now calling on other governments to step up, follow our lead and make commitments to fund fully Gavi’s vital mission for the next five years.
“The UK is proud to be Gavi’s leading donor, and on April 29, the International Development Secretary pledged the equivalent of £330 million a year over the next five years from the aid budget to protect 75 million children from preventable diseases.
“Gavi is a crucial partner in the fight against infectious diseases globally, including coronavirus. With the support of UK Aid, Gavi has immunised over 760 million children in the world’s poorest countries, saving more than 13 million lives.
“Between 2000 and 2023 Gavi has committed over 3 billion US dollars alone to Nigeria to combat diseases like Measles, Meningitis and Yellow Fever.
“This work is essential if we are to avoid further disease outbreaks and epidemics that would result in needless child deaths and place additional strain on health systems already weakened by coronavirus.“
Speaking on the upcoming summit, the British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Catriona Laing said:“Producing a vaccine for COVID-19 is a priority for the UK government as this will help save lives in Nigeria and globally from the deadly virus.
“Gavi is already working hard with partners to ensure any future vaccine that is safe and effective is delivered at scale around the world.“
Also speaking on the upcoming Summit, Nigerian Public Health and Health Promotion Specialist, Dr. Obinna Ebirim said:“As we move towards the Global Vaccine Summit to be hosted by the United Kingdom, I call on countries and donors to support the work Gavi is doing.
“Your support to Gavi means that you are supporting Vaccination programmes in poor and remote communities around the world and in Nigeria, that wouldn’t have had access to vaccines if not for the support Gavi provides.”
The UK has committed an additional £20m through the African Union’s new ‘Africa anti-COVID 19 fund’ to recruit and deploy African health experts where they are needed most, to tackle the pandemic.