The United Kingdom (UK) Foreign Secretary, Liz Truss, has pledged up to £105 million of UK emergency aid to help vulnerable countries tackle the Omicron COVID-19 variant, with a particular focus on Nigeria and other African countries.
This was disclosed in a statement issued yesterday by the British High Commission in Abuja. It said the vital aid will be delivered through trusted partners, such as the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), stressing that it will scale-up testing – especially in parts of Africa where testing rates for COVID-19 remain lowest – allowing health systems to track and respond to the spread of the virus more effectively.
This according to the state is in addition to the UK’s world-leading genomic sequencing support.
The aid will also improve access to oxygen supplies for ventilators – a surge in demand for oxygen is a significant risk for some countries.
Foreign Secretary Truss said “The UK is providing vital assistance to help tackle the spread of new variants around the world. This is key to securing our freedom and ending this pandemic once and for all. I am proud that we have also delivered over 30 million vaccines to benefit our friends around the world this year. The UK is helping other countries most in need. No one is safe until everyone is safe.”
Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid said “The global pandemic has challenged health systems around the world and the best way to overcome this awful disease is to unite and stand side by side with our international partners. By supporting countries with the UK’s ground breaking science and research into the spread of variants, improving access to oxygen and scaling up testing we will help those most in need chart their course out of the pandemic. I am proud that we have already delivered over 30 million vaccines to our friends abroad. The UK, as a global leader, is helping other countries most in need. No one is safe until everyone is safe.”
The aid will provide communities with hygiene advice, products and access to handwashing facilities and support deep cleaning in schools, health centres and other public places. This will build on the successful global hygiene campaign between UK aid and Unilever which has reached over 1.2 billion people since its launch in 2020.
It will fund the UK’s ground-breaking science and research into the spread of variants like Omicron to enable innovative evidence-based policy responses in low and middle-income countries.
The statement said further that the efforts will ready the UK’s own expert emergency teams for deployment overseas to crisis hotspots, including with new medical equipment.
“The government has also confirmed today that over 30 million vaccines have been delivered so far as part of the UK’s pledge to donate 100 million doses to the world, benefitting more than 30 countries, including Nigeria.
“Doses donated by the UK have reached four continents and provided vital protection from Covid-19 in countries including Nigeria, Angola, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Ghana and Rwanda,” the statement said.
Of the more than 30 million doses now donated so far, 24.6 million have been received by COVAX for delivery to countries and 5.5 million have been shared directly with countries in need. The UK has so far donated to Nigeria over 1.2m doses of Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccines through COVAX in 2021. Millions more vaccines will be sent to Nigeria and other countries in 2022, including 20 million Oxford-AstraZeneca doses and 20 million Janssen doses.
The UK has been at the forefront of the global response to Covid-19. Today’s announcement builds on the £1.3 billion in UK aid committed to the international health response early on in the pandemic, supporting vaccines, health systems and economic recovery in developing countries. The UK Government has also invested more than £88 million to support the development of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, and the UK became the first country in the world to approve the jab a year ago.