The UK will donate £1.65bn over the next five years to the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation (Gavi) to aid the search for a coronavirus vaccine.
Foreign secretary Dominic Raab announced at today’s press briefing that the UK would give £330m a year for the next five years to Gavi.
The UK had previously donated around £300m to the cause of finding a Covid-19 vaccine, making it one of the largest worldwide donors.
“We seek to come up with a vaccine both to protect the British people, but also to help immunise millions of the poorest and most vulnerable people around the world,” he said.
It comes after health secretary Matt Hancock announced last week that a team of Oxford University scientists were about to start clinical trials on a potential coronavirus vaccine.
The government has given £20m to the university to fund the trial, while also handing out a further £22.5m to Imperial College for its vaccine research.
Hancock said the two teams were “two of the leading vaccine developments taking place” in the world.
He said: “The best way to defeat coronavirus is through a vaccine, after all this is a new disease, this is uncertain science but I am certain we will throw everything we’ve got at developing a vaccine.
“I can announce the vaccine from the Oxford trial will be trialled in people from this Thursday.
“In normal times reaching this stage would take years – I’m very proud of the work taken so far.”
Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty said last week that the probability of having a vaccine ready to distribute and administer widely this year was very small.
“The exit from this is going to be one of two things – a highly effective vaccine…or highly effective drugs, so people stop dying of this disease even if they catch it,” Whitty said.
“Until that point – the probability of having those any time in the next calendar year are incredibly small – we’re going to have to rely on other social measures which are of course are very socially disruptive.