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The UK has committed £548 million to the COVAX Advanced Market Commitment (AMC) – the international initiative to support global equitable access to vaccines. Through match funding, the commitment encouraged other donors to commit $1 billion.

UK response

The Government says this funding will contribute to the supply of at least 1.3 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines in 2021 for 92 developing countries.

Funding to NGOs

The Government recognises the role that NGOs and other charities play in delivering the UK development programme in general, and specifically in responding to the Covid 19 pandemic.

Responding to a question on the role of charities in helping the Government meet its development Objectives ( Overseas Aid: Charities) in March 2021 the Government responded:

“we recognise the unique role played by small UK-based international development charities in understanding and connecting with local communities and delivering support to the most marginalised and vulnerable, including during the latest COVID-19 crisis.”

The UK also provided funding for a Hygiene, Handwashing and Behaviour Change Coalition for COVID-19, through Unilever. In response to a question on this funding from Preet Kaur Gill, the FCDO responded:

“The UK Government has now allocated over £26 million to provide urgent COVID-19 hygiene support to some of the world’s most vulnerable people.”

Large UK-based charities (organisations with an average annual income of over £10 million for the last three years) have been allocated £11 million of this overall total. Delivery partners were selected through open competition. The remaining £15 million has been disbursed through non-UK-based not-for-profit organisations and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).”


Gavi, the vaccine alliance, describes itself as a public-private partnership that aims to help vaccinate people – predominately children – against “deadly and debilitating infectious diseases”. Its core partners are the World Health Organization, UNICEF, the World Bank and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Its website also explains that Gavi works with donors who include Governments as well as:

private sector foundations and corporate partners; NGOs, advocacy groups, professional and community associations, faith-based organisations and academia; vaccine manufacturers, including those in emerging markets; research and technical health institutes; and implementing country governments.[1]

Rather than replicating the work of these bodies, Gavi emphasises that it relies “on country-based systems and works with partners with widespread field presence to deliver its programmes”. Thus it does not, for example, have a presence on the ground in developing countries. Instead, it explains that “health ministries take the lead working closely with WHO regional and country offices, who provide expert recommendations on vaccine use and appraisal of new vaccines”.[2]

The Government reports that the funding alliance Gavi works with faith based organisations and religious leaders to:

“provide accurate and transparent information on, and encourage the distribution and uptake of, COVID-19 vaccines. We continue to assess the impact of Covid-19 on human rights globally, including Christians and members of minority religious and belief communities facing persecution”

Religious organisations

Some commentators argue that religious organisations have not in general been properly tapped into for the range of benefits and targeted outreach that they can offer to ensure vaccines reach people.

They point out that engagement by faith organisations in immunization is not new. Religious actors’ work around resistance against polio vaccination in northern Nigeria from 2003 to 2004 is one of the best-documented recent examples of the religious community addressing vaccination resistance and propelling uptake.

Others argue that the church has the second largest aid network in the world. CAFOD, the Catholic development organisation, says that In many countries, it is the only way of reaching the people who need urgent support. “This was clear during the Ebola crisis in West Africa, and we are putting that experience to work in fighting COVID-19.”

[1]              Gavi, About our alliance, not dated

[2]              Gavi, Operating model, February 2020

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