UK pledges £160 million to global vaccine drive

Britain on Thursday pledged an extra £160 million to boost global vaccine development, with the aim of being able to produce a global shot within 100 days of any future pandemic.

A man receives a dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination clinic set up at Chester Cathedral on December 16, 2021 as the UK steps up the country's booster drive to fight a "tidal wave" of Omicron. (Photo: AFP)

The money will be on top of the £276 million ($374 million, 330 million euros) that Britain has already given to the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), a global partnership launched in 2017 to develop vaccines to stop future outbreaks.

"This pandemic is a global challenge and it has shown the best way to chart a course back to freedom is by standing side by side with our international partners," said British health minister Sajid Javid.

"Our £160 million pledge will support CEPI's vital work to cut vaccine development to 100 days and protect us all against future health threats".

The announcement came ahead of the Global Pandemic Preparedness Summit in London on March 7 and 8, which will be attended by leading global politicians, WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus and Anthony Fauci, chief medical advisor to US President Joe Biden.

The event aims to raise funds for CEPI's goal to develop "variant-proof" vaccines that will work against multiple future Covid-19 strains.

Western nations have faced criticism over the lack of availability of vaccines in poorer and developing nations during the coronavirus pandemic, with former prime minister Gordon Brown accusing leaders of "unforgivable moral failure".