Boris Johnson today pumped another £210million into coronavirus vaccine funding as he joined a video call with G20 leaders.
The PM and counterparts including Donald Trump, Xi Jinping of China, and Vladimir Putin linked up for a discussion on how to coordinate the response.
Saudi Arabia’s King Salman, who is technically hosting the summit, urged countries to pump more funding into vaccine research.
Alongside the vaccine funding, Mr Johnson unveiled £40million for developing treatments, £23million on research for new tests, and £50million towards a world-wide information campaign on the importance of handwashing.
The UK’s contribution to the international effort now stands at £544million, with the money coming from the government’s aid budget.
However, there look to be divisions among the G20 over how to respond to the looming global recession as economies are effectively shut down to stop the spread of the disease.
Many states, including Britain, have announced huge economic stimulus packages, protectionist measures have also been floated.
Boris Johnson (one down from top left) joined G20 counterparts including Donald Trump, Xi Jinping of China for the video call today
The leaders used video conferencing software as the world gets used to ‘virtual’ meetings amid the coronavirus crisis
Mr Johnson said after the call: ‘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.’
King Salman said: ‘We must have an effective and coordinated response to this pandemic and restore confidence in the global economy.
‘On the trade front, the G20 must send a strong signal to restore confidence in the global economy by resuming, as soon as possible, the normal flow of goods and services, especially vital medical supplies.’
In a joint statement, the G20 promised a “transparent, robust, co-ordinated, large-scale and science-based global response in the spirit of solidarity”.
“Tackling the pandemic and its intertwined health, social and economic impacts is our absolute priority,” they said, promising to do “whatever it takes”.
The leaders promised to “expand manufacturing capacity to meet the increasing needs for medical supplies and ensure these are made widely available, at an affordable price, on an equitable basis, where they are most needed and as quickly as possible”.
They also promised vowed immediate resources to the WHO’s Covid-19 solidarity response fund, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness and Innovation (CEPI) and Gavi, the vaccine alliance, on a voluntary basis.
World Health Organization director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus addressed the G20 to seek support for ramping up funding and production of personal protection equipment for health workers.
‘We have a global responsibility as humanity and especially those countries like the G20,’ Tedros told a news conference in Geneva late on Wednesday. ‘They should be able to support countries all over the world.’
King Salman urged cooperation in financing research and development for therapeutics and a vaccine, ensuring the availability of vital medical supplies and equipment, and helping less developed countries build capacities.
Meanwhile, there have been reports of bitter wrangling between the US and Beijing over claims Mr Trump wants the communique from the summit to refer to the origins of the virus being in China.
Saudi Arabia’s King Salman, who is technically hosting the summit, has urged countries to pump more funding into vaccine research
Vladimir Putin dialed in for the discussion on how to coordinate the coronavirus response
EU council president Charles Michel was logged in for the high-level talks today