On 11 November 2020, the UK and Chile hosted a virtual seminar on Covid-19 vaccines access, finance and distribution as part of efforts to strengthen international and regional co-operation ensuring fair and equitable access to Covid-19 vaccines.
The UK’s Minister for the Americas, Wendy Morton MP and Chile’s Deputy Minister for International Economic Relations, Under-Secretary Rodrigo Yáñez launched the virtual seminar “Access to Vaccines – Finance, Delivery and Distribution in Latin America and the Caribbean” bringing together policymakers and scientific experts to discuss the urgent work of ensuring equitable access to Covid-19 vaccines.
Representatives from more than 30 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean were joined by leaders and experts from the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI); Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation (GAVI) ; the World Health Organization (WHO); the Pan-America Health Organisation (PAHO); the Inter-American Development Bank; the Caribbean Development Bank; and the Caribbean Public Health Agency.
The event discussed the COVAX Facility – the global initiative working with governments and manufacturers to ensure COVID-19 vaccines are available worldwide to economies of all financial means. The vast majority of governments across the Caribbean have now signed up to COVAX, which will allow for rapid access to safe and effective vaccines once they receive regulatory approval.
Participants reviewed ways to access financing, align efforts, and invest in the effective distribution of vaccines, ensuring supply chain and logistical networks are in place for vaccines as they emerge. There was broad agreement that this was not only an investment in global health and wellbeing, but also an investment in the economy, given that the cost of of an effective vaccine would be substantially less than the economic impact of a protracted pandemic.
The seminar represents the ongoing efforts of the UK, Chile and other regional governments to support the multilateral response to Covid-19; to accelerate the search for vaccines, treatments and tests; and to support the recovery of the global economy.
Finding a coronavirus vaccine and supporting equitable access to it, including for Latin America and the Caribbean countries, is a top priority for both the UK and Chile.
The UK has so far committed up to £829 million of new UK aid funding for the development and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines, treatments and tests to ensure new tools are available to all, including the world’s poorest countries, and £5 million for other critical COVID-19 research and development. The UK Foreign Secretary recently co-hosted an event at the UN General Assembly in support of these objectives, with the UK committing up to £500m to the COVAX Advance Market Commitment.
Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office Minister Wendy Morton said:
“As work on vaccine development continues apace, it is vital we also make sure the challenge of distributing and delivering vaccines to the global population is addressed early. Today’s event provides an important opportunity to do that as we discuss how we can ensure fair and equitable access to vaccines, including through the COVAX Facility, and how potential vaccines can be delivered. The UK is strongly committed to working closely with our international partners to share our perspectives; to learn from each other; and to ensure that the most vulnerable are supported.”
She added: “No one country can overcome this unprecedented challenge alone, and as long as one country is at risk, we are all at risk.”