Press release

UK public overwhelmingly support equitable global access to COVID-19 vaccines and treatments

Ensuring the people who most need access to vaccines and effective treatments against Covid-19, wherever they are in the world, is supported by almost all UK adults.


A YouGov poll, commissioned by Wellcome, reveals that more than 9 in 10 (96%) of adults in the UK believe that national governments should work together to ensure that treatments and vaccines can be manufactured in as many countries as possible and distributed globally to everyone who needs them.

These results are published ahead of the World Health Assembly taking place on the 18-19 May where global leaders will consider a global resolution to widen access to treatments, vaccines and diagnostics.

The poll of over 2,000 UK adults also revealed:   

  • 9 in 10 people (90%) in the UK say COVID-19 treatments and vaccines should first be provided for those who need them most in the world and over 8 in 10 people (87%) oppose the idea that they should first be provided to those who can afford them.  
  • Fewer than half (44%) support the idea that treatments and vaccines should be first provided to those in the country in which they are first developed.  
  • Over 8 in 10 people (83%) think national governments shouldn't use treatments and vaccines to gain an upper hand in trade or diplomatic negotiations 
  • Almost 6 in 10 (57%) believe that if a treatment or vaccine is first discovered in the UK it should be made available around the world as quickly as possible, even if that means some people in the UK don't get it first.

In the global effort to find a COVID-19 vaccine, research is happening at an unprecedented pace. With over 100 possible COVID-19 vaccine candidates in development, these polling results demonstrate the public support for ensuring that global efforts are made to ensure that new vaccines are made available to those who need them most.

Alex Harris, Head of Global Policy at Wellcome, said: "We need vaccines and treatments that will work for the world, and any advances must be available to all countries equally, without exception. 

"Equitable access cannot be achieved by one organisation or one country alone. It requires collective action on a global scale, with each country that has manufacturing capacity prioritising the needs of the most vulnerable everywhere.

"No country should consider reserving possible future vaccines and treatments for their use only. These results clearly show that this approach would not be supported by the people of the UK.

"No matter where they are developed or who funded them, all tests, medicines and vaccines for COVID-19 need to be available and affordable to everyone in the world who needs them."