The UK is now the largest contributor to the international effort to find a coronavirus vaccine after donating £210 million in new aid funding, Downing Street has said.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced the move during a virtual summit of leaders of the G20 group of major industrialised nations.

Mr Johnson said: “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.”

In a joint statement, leaders of the G20 group 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 to provide immediate resources to the World Health Organisation’s Covid-19 solidarity response fund, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness and Innovation (CEPI) and Gavi, the vaccine alliance, on a voluntary basis.

(PA Graphics)
(PA Graphics)

A Downing Street spokesman said: “The UK, along with many other countries, is channelling funding to the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) which is supporting the development of vaccines that will be available throughout the world.

“Future vaccines will be made available at the lowest possible price to the NHS and other countries’ healthcare systems.”

The virtual summit on Thursday was the first gathering of the G20 group since the coronavirus outbreak, and it also discussed international efforts to protect the global economy from the long-term effects of the virus.

International Development Secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan said: “This UK Government support will be vital in efforts to find a coronavirus vaccine and treatments, which will ultimately help stop its spread around the world.

“We are backing experts, including in the UK, to find solutions as quickly as possible to this pandemic. This will ultimately help us to save lives in this country.”