LONDON (Reuters) – Britain pledged on Thursday to contribute 210 million pounds ($253 million) to the international coalition to find a vaccine against coronavirus, which it said made it the biggest contributor.
Announcing the commitment after a virtual summit with other G20 leaders, Prime Minister Boris Johnson called on governments to work together to create a vaccine as quickly as possible and make it available to anyone who needs it.
“My call to every G20 country and to governments around the world is to step up and help us defeat this virus,” Johnson said in a statement.
The British funding is being channelled to the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), which has said it requires an additional $2 billion in funding from governments to develop the crucial vaccine.
“If all G20 governments pledged $100 million funding, this shortfall would be met instantly,” the British government statement said.
The director of the Wellcome Trust, an independent health foundation, has said the world needs $8 billion for the immediate research and development needs of creating, testing and trialing a potential vaccine.
That estimate does not include the cost of manufacturing and distributing any vaccine.
Around 60 or more research projects worldwide are currently seeking to develop a vaccine.
The British government has so far committed a total of 544 million pounds of aid money to the international effort against coronavirus.
That includes 71 million pounds in previously announced funding for vaccine and diagnostics research, and up to 150 million for the International Monetary Fund to help mitigate the impact of the pandemic on vulnerable countries.
(Reporting by Estelle Shirbon; editing by Stephen Addison)