BusinessDay
NigeriaDecides2023

COVID-19: UK pledges £105m to help Nigeria, others tackle Omicron

The UK government has pledged up to £105 million of its emergency aid to help Nigeria and other vulnerable African countries tackle the Omicron Covid-19 variant.

Uk Foreign Secretary, Liz Truss who made this pledge said the vital aid will be delivered through trusted partners, such as the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) to scale-up testing – especially in parts of Africa where testing rates for Covid-19 remain the lowest – allowing health systems to track and respond to the spread of the virus more effectively.

The fund will also improve access to oxygen supplies for ventilators, the Secretary explained in a statement on Thursday, while noting that a surge in demand for oxygen is a significant risk for some countries.

The fund will also “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.

“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 added.

Read also: No death from Omicron variant yet in Nigeria – NCDC

The UK 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 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,” Truss said.

Sajid Javid, Health and Social Care Secretary said the pandemic has challenged health systems around the world and the best way to overcome the awful disease is to unite and stand side by side with 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.”

Seth Berkley, CEO of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, said: “We welcome the UK’s commitment in new funding to protect the most vulnerable, particularly in Africa; the UK’s continued focus on COVAX and equitable global access to COVID19 vaccines, both through early financing commitments made at UNGA 2020, as well as meeting the Prime Minister’s G7 commitment to dose sharing – the 30m target set by the end of 2021.”

“We look forward to operationalising the remainder of the UK’s dose sharing commitment via COVAX in 2022, while we also work with the UK Government on continuing to support Gavi’s ambitious 2021-2025 routine vaccination programmes, of which the United Kingdom is the largest funder through the PM’s commitment made at the UK-hosted Global Vaccine Summit in June 2020.”

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