UK helps raise R15bn in global vaccine donations

Nurse Justine Braid prepares the first of two injections with a dose of the Pfizer/BioNtech COVID-19 vaccine at a NHS vaccine centre that has been set up in the grounds of the horse racing course at Epsom, Surrey on December 16, 2020

Steve Parsons / POOL / AFP

LONDON - Britain said on Sunday it has helped raise $1-billion (R15-billion) from global donors towards the drive to help "vulnerable countries" access coronavirus vaccines, by match-funding contributions.

The UK said, in addition, it has committed £548 million (R11-billion) to the COVAX Advance Market Commitment (AMC), after matching with £1 every $4 pledged by other donors.

Canada, Japan and Germany are among the countries to make contributions that it matched, helping the AMC raise more than $1.7-billion in total so far.

The fund will allow for the distribution of one billion COVID-19 vaccine doses to 92 developing countries this year, according to Britain's Foreign Office.

"We'll only be safe from this virus, when we're all safe - which is why we're focused on a global solution to a global problem," Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said in a statement.

The announcement came as Britain marks the 75th anniversary of the first meeting of the United Nations General Assembly in London, hosting UN Secretary-General António Guterres for a so-called virtual visit starting Sunday.

In remarks to be delivered at a virtual commemoration event, Guterres said the world was "at a 1945 moment", but this time in its war "against a microscopic virus".

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"The pandemic has revealed the deep fragilities in our world," he added, calling it a human tragedy but also an opportunity to increase global cooperation on a host of issues.

"The past months have shown that huge transformations are possible when there is political will and consensus on the way forward"

Guterres will on Monday meet Raab and Prime Minister Boris Johnson, as well as Alok Sharma, who was this week designated full-time president of the UN's next major climate summit, COP26, in November.

Sharma had previously done the role part-time alongside his UK government job of secretary of state for business, energy and industrial strategy, which he left Friday. 

Also on Monday, Guterres and global leaders will try to reignite international environmental diplomacy with a biodiversity summit to launch a critical year for efforts to stem the devastating effects of global warming and species loss.  

The One Planet Summit, a largely virtual event hosted by France in partnership with the United Nations and the World Bank, will include French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and European Union chief Ursula Von der Leyen.


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