Coronavirus: Britain now the largest contributor to international effort to find vaccine after £210m commitment

G20 video summit commits to coordinated global response in ‘spirit of solidarity’

Andrew Woodcock
Political Editor
Thursday 26 March 2020 17:06 GMT
Coronavirus in numbers

Britain has become the largest contributor to an international bid to find a coronavirus vaccine after Boris Johnson committed a further £210m to the effort

Downing Street announced the new funding after Mr Johnson took part in a video conference of the G20 group, in which leaders of the world’s biggest economies – including Donald Trump – committed to a “transparent, robust, coordinated, large-scale and science-based global response in the spirit of solidarity”.

The new money brings to £250m the total UK contribution to the international Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) drive to find a vaccine, in a move which No 10 said would ensure British scientists remain at the forefront of action to fight the virus.

Mr Johnson called on other G20 leaders to join Britain in helping CEPI secure the $2bn (£1.7bn) additional funding it needs this year to develop the crucial vaccine.

“While our brilliant doctors and nurses fight coronavirus at home, this record British funding will help to find a vaccine for the entire world,” said Mr Johnson.

“UK medics and researchers are at the forefront of this pioneering work.

“My call to every G20 country and to governments around the world is to step up and help us defeat this virus.”

Today’s online summit was hosted by King Salman of Saudi Arabia, which currently holds the presidency of the G20, and also involved leaders from countries including Germany, France, Russia, Brazil, Japan, China and Canada.

In a communique, the G20 leaders agreed to “spare no effort” to protect lives, jobs, financial stability and global supply chains.

Notably, the document referred to the virus as Covid-19, following reports that the US blocked agreement on a separate G7 statement by insisting on using the term “Wuhan virus”, which other countries object to as it appears to pin responsibility for the outbreak on China.

The G20 noted that its member states have already injected $5 trillion into the world economy through measures to shore up economies shaken by the virus.

The group committed to “substantially” increasing epidemic preparedness spending, and pledged to work closely with multilateral institutions like the World Health Organisation, World Bank and International Monetary Fund in responding to the outbreak.

“Global action, solidarity and international cooperation are more than ever necessary to address this pandemic,” said the communique.

“We are confident that, working closely together, we will overcome this. We will protect human life, restore global economic stability and lay out solid foundations for strong, sustainable, balanced and inclusive growth.”

Today’s announcement of new funding for CEPI brings the total UK aid committed to fighting coronavirus to £544m, including £150m for the IMF to mitigate the impact on vulnerable countries, £71m for WHO vaccine and testing research and £50m for a publicity campaign about the importance of handwashing in developing countries.

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