On Friday 5 March Uganda will receive an initial batch of 864,000 Astra Zeneca Covid-19 vaccines through the COVAX equitable access facility. These 18 million vaccines for Uganda are among the first of more than a billion doses going to developing countries this year through COVAX. COVAX is explicitly designed to work for high and middle and low-income countries and to ensure that doses are allocated equitably at a global level.
Thanks to a huge international effort – which the UK has led and galvanised – the whole world can now start moving towards the end of this pandemic. The UK was one of the first countries to back COVAX and to date has committed £548 million to ensure global access to vaccines and has consistently called on other donors to step up their support. We did it because we want to be a force for good in the world. We were also the biggest donor in 2020 to CEPI, an alliance financing and coordinating the development of new vaccines to prevent and contain infectious disease epidemics, including for COVID-19: these vaccines will help the global fight against the virus.
So far, the UK has committed up to £829 million for the development of COVID-19 vaccines, treatments and diagnostics and their distribution to developing countries. This brings our total new UK aid commitment to fight the pandemic worldwide to up to £1.3 billion. The UK has also helped to raise $1 billion for the coronavirus COVAX Advance Market Commitment (AMC) through match funding other donors.
COVAX began to deliver vaccines to lower income countries on Wednesday 24 February. In total more than a billion COVID-19 vaccines will go to up to 92 developing countries, with targets in place to help those countries vaccinate the most vulnerable by June 2021.
This latest development follows the news last week of the unanimous agreement of UN Security Council Resolution 2565 for ceasefires in conflict zones to allow the delivery of vaccines to some of the world’s most vulnerable people. The UK called for this resolution as Chair of the UN Security Council last month. The resolution was co-sponsored by 112 countries, including all 15 members of the Security Council.
Support to COVAX is just one way the UK is helping countries respond to COVID-19. In Uganda the UK has also donated test kits and supplied PPE, provided training and helped deliver messaging on COVIID-19 prevention, helped children continue learning through the provision of distance learning lessons, provided media training to help counter misinformation and ensure accurate COVID-19 reporting and funded two COVID-19 Isolation rooms at home for children suffering from cancer in Kampala.
Kate Airey, The British High Commissioner said:
“I am proud that the United Kingdom is one of the biggest donors to COVAX, securing over one billion doses for the most vulnerable people in countries around the world including Uganda, and delighted that the first vaccines will arrive in Uganda today/tomorrow. The UK is supporting COVAX because we want to be a force for good in the world and because we need a global solution to a global pandemic. Next week, thanks to UK aid and other donors support, people in Uganda will start to be vaccinated; I hope this will be a major step forward to ending the pandemic.”