The UK’s work with Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance

The UK’s major aid investment in Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, is playing a pivotal role in making sure children in the world’s poorest countries are vaccinated against disease – but the global response to the COVID-19 pandemic risks “crowding out” routine immunisation work.

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4 Jun 2020
Lead commissioner
Tamsyn Barton

Relevant Sustainable Development Goals

  • Sustainable Development Goal 17: Partnerships for the goals
  • Sustainable Development Goal 3: Good health and well-being

Launched in 2000 at the World Economic Forum, Gavi is a public-private partnership of national governments, multilateral agencies, non-governmental organisations and the private sector to vaccinate children in the world’s poorest countries.

Since its inception, Gavi has helped to vaccinate more than 760 million children, preventing more than 13 million deaths worldwide from illnesses such as hepatitis, pneumonia, measles, meningitis, diarrhoea, rubella, yellow fever, liver cancer and cervical cancer. It helps partner countries to pay for vaccines and organise national immunisation programmes and plays a key role in shaping the global market for vaccines.

To date the UK has committed £4 billion to Gavi, making it Gavi’s largest funder. For Gavi’s next five-year phase, the UK has announced that it will contribute £1.65 billion across 2021 to 2025 (the equivalent to £330m a year), including existing pledges made during the previous funding period.

This information note provides background on the UK’s relationship with Gavi and on the development case for investing in Gavi, with a brief discussion of the implications of the COVID-19 pandemic. As a factual information note, it is not evaluative and does not make any recommendations. It concludes by suggesting a number of lines of enquiry that the International Development Committee may wish to pursue.

Suggested lines of enquiry:

  • Is Gavi achieving the right balance between immunisation campaigns and strengthening national health systems?
  • How will DFID ensure that global momentum is sustained on child immunisation? Will the UK’s contribution to Gavi’s routine vaccination programming be ring-fenced for that purpose?
  • What should Gavi do differently to prevent leaving behind pockets of zero-dose children?
  • Where does Gavi need to improve as an organisation? Does DFID propose to include performance incentives in its funding agreement?
  • How should Gavi manage the trade-off between comprehensive delivery of a basic package of vaccines for all, and delivery of more expensive vaccines to selected populations?
  • How can DFID support Gavi to ensure that developing countries gain timely and equitable access to a future COVID-19 vaccine, in the face of global competition?
  • In light of the economic impact of the pandemic, should Gavi reconsider its eligibility and graduation criteria?
  • The government has drawn attention to the benefits of investing in Gavi for the UK and its industry, as well as the benefits to people in developing countries, and clearly there are win-wins. But are there any potential trade-offs if donor country immediate interests are placed more to the fore?

International Development Committee

ICAI Chief Commissioner Tamsyn Barton gave evidence on the issues raised in the Gavi information note to an International Development Committee hearing. The hearing is available to watch online. The transcript is also available to read.