London, June 5 (IANS) The virtual Global Vaccine Summit hosted by the UK drew pledges of $8.8 billion, far more than its target of $7.4 billion, showing “historic commitments” made by world leaders to provide equal access to vaccines for all.
On Thursday, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson opened the Global Vaccine Summit virtually, urging countries and organizations to pledge funding for vaccinations to save millions of lives in the poorest countries and protect the world from future outbreaks of infectious diseases, reports Xinhua news agency.
Addressing attendees from over 50 countries and organizations, Johnson said that the summit is a moment “when the world comes together to unite humanity in the fight against the disease”.
“I urge you to join us to fortify this lifesaving alliance and inaugurate a new era of global health cooperation, which I believe is now the most essential shared endeavor of our lifetimes,” he added.
With a target of $7.4 billion for Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, the summit raised $8.8 billion from 32 donor governments and 12 foundations, corporations and organizations.
The UK pledged 1.65 billion pounds (about $2.07 billion) to Gavi over the next five years, according to Johnson.
While the UK remains Gavi’s largest donor, other top donors include the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and European countries such as Norway and Germany.
Eight countries made their first ever pledge to Gavi, including Bhutan, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Finland, Greece, New Zealand, Portugal and Uganda, according to Gavi.
The summit is expected to raise money to immunize a further 300 million children in world’s poorest countries by 2025, protecting them from deadly diseases like polio, diphtheria and measles, and also helping ensure the global recovery from COVID-19 pandemic.
As the world focuses on tackling the novel coronavirus, the World Health Organization (WHO), Unicef and Gavi have warned that the pandemic is disrupting routine immunization, affecting approximately 80 million children under the age of one across the world.
To provide access to COVID-19 vaccines for low- and middle-income countries, the summit also raised $567 million for new innovative financing instruments.
“This is the first building block towards a global mechanism to ensure equitable access to future COVID-19 vaccines,” Gavi said.