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President Uhuru Kenyatta chairs an OACP states Summit on COVID-19 response on June 3, 2020/PSCU

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Kenyatta to attend virtual Vaccine Summit on scaled up COVID-19 immunization efforts

NAIROBI, Kenya Jun 4 – President Uhuru Kenyatta is on Thursday expected to join 49 other Heads of State and representatives of 62 nations a Global Vaccine Summit hosted virtually by UK Prime Minister Borris Johnson.

The Summit under the auspices of Gavi, a public–private global health partnership with the goal of increasing access to immunization in poor countries, will see the world leaders pledge their support to the Vaccine Alliance, to protect close to 300 million more children against infectious diseases like measles, typhoid, polio and coronavirus.

The forum seek to mobilize commitments form countries to follow the UK’s lead, in stepping up and funding Gavi’s work to save millions of lives and help prevent and address future pandemics.

UK High Commission in Kenya Jane Marriot, during an interview on Wednesday, told Capital FM News forum will centre its agenda on the production of a COVID-19 vaccine.

According to Marriot, Gavi has so far helped vaccinate more than 760 million children, and as a result prevented more than 13 million deaths.

“GAVI will play a crucial role in the production of a reliable vaccine once it is tested and is found to be safe. It is not just the people who will die of COVID-19, also the children will die if they do not get vaccination. The impact of a routine vaccination is really important and that is what GAVI is so good at doing,” she said.

UK’s International Development Secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan last week pledged funding equivalent to Sh35.7 billion a year over the next five years to the Vaccine Alliance, Gavi, which will help fund immunization of 75 million children in the world’s poorest countries.

The UK has been a longstanding donor to Gavi since its formation in 2000.

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With the support of over 25 other countries such as Norway, Italy and the United States, the Vaccine Alliance has since immunized over 760 million children, saving more than 13 million lives as a result.

The UK is leading international efforts to find a coronavirus vaccine, as the largest donor to the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations’ (CEPI) coronavirus appeal.

The Chair of the Gavi Board, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, a Nigerian-born economist and international development expert, speaking ahead of the summit, said that the work of the vaccine body was crucial now more than ever before.

“Gavi’s work has never been more important. Right now it is playing a vital role both keeping immunization programmes going across the world, reducing the chances of there being further global disease outbreaks, as well as helping developing countries respond to the COVID-19 pandemic,” she said.

Bill Gates, co-chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation also lauded the vaccine body’s effort in the fight against COVID-19 that has so far seen 2, 216 people infected in the country and another 6.29 million people globally.

“When the world beats the COVID-19 pandemic and life returns to normal, Gavi – and the UK’s support of it – will be a major reason why. Gavi has spent the last 20 years delivering vaccines to the world’s poorest countries. They’ve been incredibly effective, and with this new funding, they’ll be able to continue their work when a COVID vaccine is ready,” he said.

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