Global leaders aim to raise $7.4 billion (Dh27bn) in extra funds at a pledging conference organized by Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, on Thursday.
The Global Vaccine Summit, held in London, hopes to secure funding to expand the world’s immunization programs at a time of heightened attention to public health during the coronavirus outbreak.
The summit will be attended virtually by private and public sector representatives from more than 50 countries, including heads of government from the G7 and G20.
Dr. Tedros Adhanom, director-general of the WHO, as well as Bill Gates, co-chairman of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, are to address the conference hosted by UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
Speaking to reporters before the conference, the British minister for the Middle East, James Cleverly, said the money raised would help save eight million lives over the next five years, vaccinating children against diseases such as measles, typhoid, and polio.
Private sector corporations and individual philanthropists have already pledged more than $70m to support Gavi’s efforts.
“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 immunization against other diseases,” Mr. Cleverly said.
“Further disease outbreaks and epidemics would lead to needless child deaths and place additional strain on health systems already weakened by coronavirus. Gavi’s work is also critical in fighting coronavirus itself.”
The UK minister explained that the Vaccine Alliance was in the process of ensuring a Covid-19 vaccine would become available around the globe to those who needed it.
“Gavi is already working hard with partners to ensure that any future vaccine that is safe and effective is delivered at scale around the world,” he explained.
Participants in the London summit from the Middle East and from the GCC, in particular, are expected to show strong support for the meeting.
“We are grateful for the immense work by Gulf leaders to combat coronavirus, making generous bilateral pledges and responding to global appeals including to support vaccine development as well as humanitarian assistance,” Mr. Cleverly said.
The Conservative politician praised the collaboration between the UK and the Middle East on the Covid-19 crisis, highlighting the £30m (Dh139m) support pledged by Britain to programs across the region to stop the spread of the disease.