Chile-UK Joint Webinar: Access to Vaccines – Finance, Delivery and Distribution in Latin America and the Caribbean

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On 11 November 2020 Chile’s Deputy Minister for International Economic Relations, Under-Secretary Rodrigo Yáñez and the UK’s Minister for the Americas, Wendy Morton MP hosted the virtual seminar “Access to Vaccines – Finance, Delivery and Distribution in Latin America and the Caribbean” bringing together policymakers and scientific experts from across the region and the world to discuss the urgent work of ensuring equitable access to Covid-19 vaccines.

Representatives from 30 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean were joined by leaders and experts from the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI); Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance; the World Health Organization (WHO); the Pan-America Health Organisation (PAHO); the Inter-American Development Bank; the Caribbean Development Bank; and the Caribbean Public Health Agency.

The event discussed the COVAX Facility – the global initiative working with governments and manufacturers to ensure COVID-19 vaccines are available worldwide to economies of all financial means – and the significant downstream challenges associated with rapid delivery and distribution of vaccines on a grand scale, including the technical challenges posed by variable vaccine portfolios which could require specific handling and distribution protocols.

Participants reviewed ways to access financing, align efforts, and invest in the effective distribution of vaccines, ensuring supply chain and logistical networks are in place for vaccines as they emerge. There was broad agreement that this was not only an investment in global health and wellbeing, but also an investment in the economy, given that the cost of accelerating the transition out of the crisis would be substantially less than the economic impact of a protracted pandemic.

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The seminar represents the ongoing efforts of the UK, Chile and other regional governments, working in partnership, to support the multilateral response to Covid-19; to accelerate the search for vaccines, treatments and tests; and to support the recovery of the global economy.

Finding a coronavirus vaccine and supporting equitable access to it, including for Latin America and the Caribbean countries, is a top priority for both governments. The UK and Chile are committed to collaborating with the international community to support the rapid development and manufacture of safe and effective vaccines and to ensure the necessary supply chain and distribution networks are in place to ensure widespread global access.

The UK has so far committed up to £829 million of new UK aid funding for the development and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines, treatments and tests to ensure new tools are available to all, including the world’s poorest countries, and £5 million for other critical COVID-19 research and development. The UK Foreign Secretary recently co-hosted an event at the UN General Assembly in support of these objectives, with the UK committing up to £500m to the COVAX Advance Market Commitment – of which £250m is conditional on other countries pledging.

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Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office Minister Wendy Morton said:

As work on vaccine development continues apace, it is vital we also make sure the challenge of distributing and delivering vaccines to the global population is addressed early. Today’s event provides an important opportunity to do that as we discuss how we can ensure fair and equitable access to vaccines, including through the COVAX Facility, and how potential vaccines can be delivered. The UK is strongly committed to working closely with our international partners to share our perspectives; to learn from each other; and to ensure that the most vulnerable are supported.

No one country can overcome this unprecedented challenge alone, and as long as one country is at risk, we are all at risk.

Chile’s Under-Secretary for International Economic Relations, Rodrigo Yáñez said:

The Government of Chile is strongly committed to tackle the pandemic. Through a Supreme Decree, Chile has created an Inter-ministerial Committee – composed of the Ministries of Science; of Health; and Foreign Affairs – which, in consultation with a Scientific Advisory Board, is responsible for assessing the best candidate vaccines for its procurement. It has a strategy that considers carrying out clinical trials, allowing us to obtain preferential supply and price conditions.

We strongly believe that public-private collaboration among international organisations and relevant stakeholders will contribute to ensure access of safe and efficacious vaccines, considering proper policies, safety, regulation and allocation. I am confident that by adopting a multilateral collaborative decision-making process, considering all scientific and sanitary recommendations, and working closely with all parties and stakeholders, everyone will benefit from COVID-19 vaccines soon.

Notes to Editors

  • The virtual seminar consisted of three sessions: a review of the current vaccine portfolio, distribution challenges and costs with GAVI and CEPI; multilateral financing for Covid-19 vaccines with the World Bank, the Inter-American Development Bank and the Caribbean Development Bank; and vaccine distribution and delivery challenges with PAHO, the WHO, the Caribbean Public Health Agency.
  • The UK is one of the biggest global donors on COVID-19 to date, pledging over £1 billion of UK aid to counter the health, humanitarian, and economic risks of the pandemic.

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