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Widening access to coronavirus testing and increasing oxygen supplies for countries in need will be backed by £105 million of emergency aid, the Foreign Secretary has announced.
Liz Truss has said there will be a particular focus on Africa, with funding to help tackle the spread of new variants.
While it was also revealed some 30 million doses of Covid jabs had been donated by the UK internationally, as the one-year anniversary of the approval of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine was marked.
The £105 million announced by Ms Truss will go to vulnerable countries, allowing them to increase testing rates and improve access to oxygen supplies for ventilators.
It will also help to provide hygiene advice, products, and access to handwashing facilities, plus deliver deep cleaning in schools, health centres, and other public places.
It will also help fund research into the spread of variants and support the UK’s expert emergency teams which can be deployed to hotspots.
Ms 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.”
Doses donated by the UK have reached four continents and provided protection in countries including Angola, Cambodia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Ghana, Indonesia, Malawi, Nepal, and Rwanda.
The Foreign Office said 24.6 million doses had been donated to Covax, an initiative aimed at ensuring the fair distribution of the jab worldwide, with 5.5 million given directly to countries in need.
The Government has committed to donate 100 million doses around the world.
Health 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 groundbreaking 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.”
It comes a year after the UK became the first country in the world to approve the Oxford University/AstraZeneca coronavirus jab.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: “Our fight against Covid in the UK and around the world would not have been possible without the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine.
“Developed by brilliant scientists at Oxford and delivered on a not-for-profit basis thanks to AstraZeneca, this vaccine has provided 50million doses to the British public and over 2.5 billion to more than 170 other countries.
“We can all be incredibly proud of – and grateful for – a jab that has saved many millions of lives.”