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UK leads fightback against infectious diseases

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Prime Minister Boris Johnson yesterday (Thursday, June 4, 2020) hosted the Global Vaccine Summit, bringing together over 62 countries, including 42 at head of state level, to pledge $8.8bn for Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance. This was $1.4bn over the target. The Summit’s aim was to raise funds to vaccinate an extra 300m children in developing countries against preventable diseases over the next five years.

On the morning of the summit, The Times Red Box published an article by Anne-Marie Trevelyan, International Development Secretary, on the importance of vaccines to lower the spread of infection and prevent outbreaks during a pandemic. She also called on other donors to follow the UK’s lead and pledge generously to Gavi, saying the UK was leading “the fightback against all infectious diseases.”

She was also interviewed on Sky News in which she said: “The UK has been right at the forefront from the beginning of creating an international alliance, which says not ‘winner takes all’ but the opposite which is that this is critically important for all of us.”

BBC Radio 4’s The Today Programme yesterday featured a package on the summit, reporting on the concerns from around the world that other diseases will make a comeback while coronavirus is tackled. The report also trailed the Prime Minister’s words, saying he was expected at the Summit to send a rallying cry to other countries to donate and to bring in a new era of global health collaboration.

The Telegraph, Press Association, Evening Standard, Guardian, Reuters, Daily Express, Independent, Financial Times, BBC News live blog and Politics Home all ran articles ahead of the summit. It was also covered extensively in the international press including in  Jakarta Post, The East African, Republic World, The Nation, Hindustan Times, India Today, Khaleej Times, Straits Times, This Day, France 24, Times of Malta, CNBC, Manila Bulletin, Al Khaleej today and Eastern Eye.

The Washington Post highlighted the need to raise over $2 billion to tackle coronavirus, as part of Gavi’s work. Many of these pieces focused on the Prime Minister’s statement that “nobody is safe unless everybody is safe”. UAE news website The National quoted Minister Cleverly who said “We are now calling on other governments to step up. Gavi's goal is more important than ever as we deal with coronavirus but at the same time we must not stop the battle and routine immunisation against other diseases.”

BBC Wales and BBC Radio Wales reported that solar-powered fridges from a Welsh firm are supporting immunisation programmes worldwide by working with Gavi.

On the day of the Summit, it was covered on the 12pm clock news bulletin on Radio 2, Radio 4, and on the BBC news channel. During the summit, BBC Radio 4 The World At One quoted words from the Prime Minister’s opening address: “We must use the collective purchasing power of Gavi – the vaccine alliance – to make that future vaccine affordable and available to all who need it.”

Sky News reported on the UK’s commitment of £1.65bn over 5 years to Gavi, making it the largest donor. MailOnline, The Daily Mirror and The Independent covered the opening of the Summit, focusing on the Prime Minister’s opening address, while The Sun streamed it on its YouTube channel. Metro published an article with a focus on Bill Gates’ words. Internationally, media covered pledges by their own countries, including German newspaper Deutsche Welle, Indian news website Republic , US broadcaster CNBC and  China’s state broadcaster.

The Summit closed with the announcement by the UK’s PM that the target had been surpassed by $1.4bn. This was covered by the BBC News at 6, BBC News at 10 and on the BBC News Channel. The Daily Telegraph published a clip on its YouTube site of the Prime Minister announcing the $8.8 billion pledging total. The Financial Times, Devex, BBC News, Daily Express, The i, The Independent and MailOnline wrote about the outcomes of the summit. Internationally, the total pledge was covered by Deutsche Welle, CGTN, CNBC, El Mundo, El Pais, El Comercio, France 24, Financial Express, The Hindu, Toronto Star and Koran Jakarta,

The Summit also resulted in pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca signing a deal which will enable it to double production and manufacture two billion doses, with half of those being supplied to low and middle income countries. This story was covered by BBC News, The Times,  and CNBC, with both The Times and CNBC noting the $8.8bn total pledged yesterday. The Guardian reported that a “$2bn procurement fund aimed at ensuring that poorer countries can access doses of a potential coronavirus vaccine has been announced at a virtual summit hosted by the UK”.

The Summit was also covered extensively on social media with donor countries, world leaders and influencers posting about the event, including a tweet from the Gates Foundation thanking DFID and the Prime Minister for hosting the summit and from Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director General of the World Health Organisation, congratulating the UK Government on “such a successful event.”


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