'A new era of global health cooperation': Nations pledge $8.8 billion to deliver a COVID-19 vaccine
Updated 03:17, 05-Jun-2020
Giulia Carbonaro

"[I urge you] to inaugurate a new era of global health cooperation, which I believe is now the most essential shared endeavor of our lifetime," said UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, opening Gavi's third Global Vaccine Summit, hosted virtually by the UK.

Founded 20 years ago, Gavi – also known as the Vaccine Alliance – has led immunization programs across the world to protect millions of children who could not otherwise afford vaccines, saving millions of lives in vulnerable communities. The COVID-19 pandemic is endangering Gavi's mission, preventing the alliance from conducting routine immunizations. 

Today's summit surpassed it's original target of $7.4 billion to fund international vaccination efforts as Johnson confirmed $8.8 billion has been secured for the period 2021 to 2025, maintaining immunization in those countries where the healthcare system is more likely to struggle with COVID-19 outbreaks.

The UK confirmed itself as Gavi's leading donor, pledging more than $2 billion over the next five years to support the Vaccine Alliance's efforts to vaccinate 1.1 billion children in the world's poorest countries against preventable infectious diseases.

"If we are to make this the beginning of a new era of global health collaboration, we must also replenish the funding for the vaccines we already have, strengthening routine immunizations against preventable diseases in the poorest countries," said Johnson.


WHO leader Tedros Adhanom said COVID-19 is "unraveling many of the gains we have made." /Naohiko Hatta/Pool via AP

WHO leader Tedros Adhanom said COVID-19 is "unraveling many of the gains we have made." /Naohiko Hatta/Pool via AP


As the coronavirus has disrupted our lives in almost every aspect, it has also caused immunization programs worldwide to be postponed and vaccination supply chains to be redistributed. There are concerns that millions of children might be missing life-saving vaccinations because of the current health crisis.

"The COVID-19 pandemic is unraveling many of the gains we have made – vaccination campaigns for polio, cholera, measles, meningitis, and HPV have been disrupted putting hundreds of millions of people at risk," said the World Health Organization's director general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.




"Additionally 80 million children are at risk of missing out on routine vaccines for tuberculosis, pneumonia and malaria. A vaccine would be essential to control COVID-19. But vaccines only realize their true power when they're deployed to protect the poorest and more vulnerable."

"The greatest health crisis of our generation"

The COVID-19 pandemic was high on the virtual summit's agenda, with international leaders emphasizing the importance of ensuring everyone in any part of the world, including poor countries, is granted access to the vaccine.

It should not matter where you're born and how wealthy your family is, vaccination is a universal human right
 -  European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen

"COVID-19 is the greatest health crisis of our generation," said United Nations secretary general António Guterres in his opening remarks. "A vaccine by itself isn't enough: we need global solidarity to make sure every person everywhere has access to it. The COVID-19 vaccine must be seen as a global public good."

"Our shared duty is to ensure that once the vaccine is available is available to everyone," said the WHO's Tedros.

Announcing her country's $1 billion pledge to Gavi, Norwegian prime minister Erna Solberg called the future distribution of a COVID-19 vaccine "a human rights issue, a global health issue."


Norwegian premier Erna Solberg called the distribution of any COVID-19 vaccine "a human rights issue." /Markus Schreiber/PA

Norwegian premier Erna Solberg called the distribution of any COVID-19 vaccine "a human rights issue." /Markus Schreiber/PA


"If we didn't already have Gavi, we would have to create it just to solve this crisis," said Bill Gates, announcing the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation's pledge of $1.6 billion.

"Since its inception, Gavi has helped vaccinate more than three quarters of a billion children. It's incentivized researchers to develop vaccines for neglected diseases. It's made new vaccines widely available many years before they would have been available without Gavi. And now it's stepping up and saying it's willing to deliver a COVID-19 vaccine as soon as one is available to end the pandemic as soon as possible."

The summit was a celebration of the life-saving power of vaccines, and a timely initiative in these time of crisis, with international leaders praising the vital work of Gavi and highlighting the importance of a global effort around ending preventable diseases and fighting COVID-19 together.

It was also a reminder for international leaders on the key role global cooperation will play to stop the spread of the virus. "In extraordinary times we need an extraordinary mobilization," said European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen. "It should not matter where you're born and how wealthy your family is, vaccination is a universal human right."


Today we make the choice to unite, to forge a path of global cooperation.
 -  Boris Johnson, UK Prime Minister


Raising money 

"In the last month the European Union has helped raised almost 10 billion euro [around $11.3 billion] to fight coronavirus. Of these, one and a half [$1.7 billion] is for Gavi. Our common aim with Gavi and many other partners is to speed up the delivery of an affordable COVID-19 vaccine for all who need it."

The EU pledged around $339 million on top of individual EU member states contributions. "We're only as strong as the weakest health system. No one is safe until everyone is safe," said Denmark's health minister Magnus Heunicke, stressing the importance for solidarity among European countries and nations around the world and equal access to the COVID-19 vaccine once available.

Angela Merkel announced a pledge of $676 million from Germany, Spain's prime minister Pedro Sánchez offered $56 million, Italy pledged $135 million, France $112 million to build what president Emmanuel Macron called "the world of tomorrow after this pandemic," and Sweden announced an impressive donation of $1.75 billion in the period between 2021-25.


Check out The Pandemic Playbook, CGTN Europe's major investigation into the lessons learned from COVID-19