Right now, the fast global spread of Covid-19 means no one is safe from this pandemic until we are all safe.
In both South Africa and the United Kingdom, people have made enormous personal sacrifices to slow the spread of this virus. But only one thing will stop this pandemic in its tracks, and that’s a vaccine.
We are all contributing to the war on this disease in different ways. The UK has stepped up to become the biggest donor to the international fund to develop a vaccine, which will save lives and livelihoods around the world, including in our two countries.
Scientists at the University of Oxford have begun human trials and are partnering with another British success story, AstraZeneca – one of the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies – to make sure we are ready to manufacture a workable vaccine at scale.
The global sense of community among nations is remarkable as we work together towards this common goal to find a cure. The only way we will succeed is by bringing together our resources, science and expertise to prevent a second wave of infection.
As such, the UK is very proud to have co-hosted on Monday 4 May 2020 the Coronavirus Global Response International Pledging Conference with Japan, Germany, France, Canada, Norway, Italy, Saudi Arabia and the European Commission.
This is a pledging event aiming to raise $8-billion from governments and global organisations for the research and development of vaccines, treatments and tests to help end the coronavirus pandemic and prevent future waves of infection.
The UK has pledged significant support to achieve this aim, including the world’s largest donation to the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) fund to develop a coronavirus vaccine.
The more countries, businesses and global organisations that pull together to pool their expertise, the faster our scientists will succeed in finding a vaccine, accessible and affordable for all.
The international momentum to find a vaccine is growing.
Now our nations must work together to build on this by making sure when we do find a vaccine, it will reach the people who need it.
Monday’s pledging event to help find a vaccine is only the beginning.
On 4 June the UK will play virtual host to the Global Vaccine Summit focused on raising funds to help Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance.
To kick off the international investment push, last week I announced new UK funding for Gavi to vaccinate up to 75 million children in the world’s poorest countries. We have pledged funding equivalent to £330-million a year for the next five years. Gavi’s work is integral to stopping diseases spreading globally and protecting countries like yours and mine from future pandemics.
Gavi has a superb track record delivering life-saving vaccinations, and pledges to the Alliance will help support their work in 68 different countries. Once a coronavirus vaccine is developed, Gavi will also play an integral role to ensure global distribution.
I know that our two governments can work together to get this right. Because the only way for us to defeat this global disease is through global cooperation.
The UK is not only giving its support to the pledging conference today, we are calling on our international partners to do the same. We need everyone to pull together and work together.
Ministerial colleagues, whether in the UK or in South Africa, are standing together at today’s pledging initiative. We are urging other countries to step up and make their contributions to overcome this crisis for our common good.
As our Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, said at the conference: “The race to discover the vaccine to defeat this virus is not a competition between countries, but the most urgent shared endeavour of our lifetimes. We are in this together and together we will win.” DM
In 1952 Wernher von Braun wrote a paper where he believed a colony on Mars would be led by an individual named "Elon".