Press release

PM announces record funding to find a coronavirus vaccine

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced record funding to find a coronavirus vaccine

  • Prime Minister calls on world leaders to collaborate to speed up vaccine development for coronavirus
  • UK is now the biggest contributor to the international coalition to find a vaccine, with £210 million further funding announced today
  • UK also announcing new funding to accelerate production of rapid tests and treatments for the virus
  • Total amount of UK aid spent fighting coronavirus now stands at £544 million

The race to find a vaccine for coronavirus will be boosted by £210 million of new UK aid funding, the Prime Minister announced today (26th March) following a virtual summit of G20 leaders.

To date, this is the largest single contribution by any country to the key international fund to find a coronavirus vaccine. It will ensure British scientists and researchers continue to lead the global fight against the virus.

The Prime Minister is calling on governments to work together to create a vaccine as quickly as possible and make it available to anyone who needs it.

The UK, along with many other countries, is channelling funding to the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) which is supporting the development of vaccines that will be available throughout the world. Future vaccines will be made available at the lowest possible price to the NHS and other countries’ healthcare systems.

CEPI has announced that it requires $2 billion additional funding from international governments to develop the crucial vaccine. If all G20 governments pledged $100 million funding this shortfall would be met instantly. The UK has already gone beyond its share by committing £250 million to CEPI to date, and the UK is asking all governments to contribute to this important international goal.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said:

While our brilliant doctors and nurses fight coronavirus at home, this record British funding will help to find a vaccine for the entire world. UK medics and researchers are at the forefront of this pioneering work.

My call to every G20 country and to governments around the world is to step up and help us defeat this virus.

In the meantime, I want to repeat to everyone that they should stay at home, protect the NHS and save lives.

Today’s video call between G20 leaders, the first gathering of this group since the coronavirus outbreak, also discussed international efforts to protect the global economy from the long-term effects of the virus.

The UK has led the way in responding to the economic impact of coronavirus, producing a huge and unprecedented programme of support both for workers and for business in the UK and contributing to the IMF fund to support vulnerable economies. But without targeted and coordinated interventions from international governments the virus could have far-reaching global implications for people’s jobs and finances.

Global health experts have identified the weakness of developing countries’ healthcare systems as one of the biggest risks to the global spread of the virus. A ‘second wave’ of the pandemic emanating from the developing world would impact countries who are only just recovering and undermine current efforts to stop the spread of coronavirus and protect vulnerable people.

An additional package of UK aid announced today will go towards producing rapid tests for coronavirus and testing and developing medicines to treat the disease, for use in the UK and around the world.

Quickly identifying those with coronavirus and having the means to treat those most affected will be pivotal in bringing down the number of people killed by the virus.

UK funding will accelerate the development of medicines to treat the virus, both by testing the effectiveness of existing medicines against coronavirus, such as drugs currently used in cases of malaria, and by researching and testing new treatments.

International Development Secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan said:

This UK Government support will be vital in efforts to find a coronavirus vaccine and treatments, which will ultimately help stop its spread around the world.

We are backing experts, including in the UK, to find solutions as quickly as possible to this pandemic. This will ultimately help us to save lives in this country.

Notes to editors

Today’s announcement of new UK aid funding consists of:

  • £210 million to help develop a vaccine. This new funding for the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations is in addition to the £40 million already given to the organisation. It will help scientists and researchers continue to lead global efforts to develop a workable coronavirus vaccine, including at the University of Oxford.
  • £40 million to develop affordable treatments for coronavirus patients. This will support the Therapeutic Accelerator, a fund for the rapid development of anti-retrovirals or immunotherapies against coronavirus which is already backed by the UK-based Wellcome Trust, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Mastercard. It aims to make 10 million treatments available in the coming months globally, including in the UK. This funding is for all stages of the development process – the development, manufacture, trialling and approval of the new medicines.
  • £23 million to further develop easily-manufactured testing devices. This is additional funding for the Foundation for Innovative New Diagnostics, a partnership between academic organisations and pharmaceutical companies which will build rapid testing technology like the new prototype test developed by the Mologic lab in Bedford, which is currently funded by UK aid.
  • £50 million in a joint campaign with Unilever to tell up to a billion people about the importance of handwashing to stop the virus spreading in developing countries. The programme will also distribute over 20 million hygiene and cleaning products.

Today’s announcement bring the total amount of UK aid committed to fight coronavirus to £544 million.

This includes:

  • £71 million previously announced for the research of vaccines and diagnostic tests, to support of the World Health Organization and other international humanitarian organisations.
  • Up to £150 million, announced in the Budget, for the International Monetary Fund to help mitigate the impact of coronavirus on the world’s most vulnerable countries.

The UK has a long-term commitment to investment in vaccines and global health systems. UK aid has supported the Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance for 20 years, allowing them to immunise over 760 million children and saving over 13 million lives worldwide. Gavi is expected to play a key role in ensuring that any new coronavirus vaccine is available and affordable around the world.

If journalists would like to speak to any experts on the research UK aid is funding please contact the DFID press office on 020 7023 0600 or Philippa Russell at

Published 26 March 2020