Thursday 26 March 2020 4:01 pm

UK becomes biggest donor in race to find coronavirus vaccine

The UK is now the biggest donor toward finding a coronavirus vaccine, after Boris Johnson pledged a further £210m in a call between G20 leaders today.

Johnson also announced £40m of funding for developing affordable treatments, £23m on research for new testing devices, and £50m on a joint advertising campaign with Unilever to explain the importance of handwashing.

The UK’s total spent fighting coronavirus is now £544m, including a previously announced £71m for vaccine and treatment research.

The funding is going to the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), who has said it requires $2bn additional funding from international governments to develop a Covid-19 vaccine.

The Prime Minister urged the other G20 leaders to contribute more funding toward finding a vaccine in today’s video call.

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

“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.”

The G20 leaders released a joint statement after their meeting to commit to work together to safeguard the global economy and fight the pandemic.

This included strengthening “national, regional, and global capacities” to respond to future “potential infectious disease outbreaks by substantially increasing our epidemic preparedness”.

The statement added: “We ask the World Health Organisation (WHO), in cooperation with relevant organizations, to assess gaps in pandemic preparedness and report to a joint meeting of finance and health ministers in the coming months, with a view to establish a global initiative on pandemic preparedness and response.”

There was also a guarantee that the group will continue “to ensure the flow of vital medical supplies,critical agricultural products, and other goods and services across borders”.