Wellcome statements on novel coronavirus (Covid-19)

Listed on this page are media statements issued by Wellcome in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Monday 21 September 2020

In response to 'Economies worldwide formally sign up to COVAX facility',

Dr Jeremy Farrar, Director of Wellcome, said:
“It’s great to see a large number of countries signing up to COVAX and agreeing to secure vaccines not just for themselves, but for the world. The speed and scale of vaccine development has been remarkable but we still do not know yet which candidates might be successful or the most effective, and not all vaccines will be suitable for all who are at risk. Shared global investments in a range of vaccines that use diverse technologies and which can then be available for priority populations worldwide is critical. The investments today mean that COVAX can now start doing manufacturing deals, which is vital.

“Questions remain, however, on the detail of how the first vaccines – which will be in limited supply – will reach those who need them most in every country. Vaccinating high-risk people in every country first is not only the right thing to do, it’s in every country’s best interest. Unless every country has access to COVID-19 vaccines, tests and treatments the whole world is at risk.

“Countries cannot, and do not at this stage need access for every citizen. Countries should only buy doses for those in greatest need – healthcare and essential workers and those at highest risk. Any oversupply secured through bilateral deals must be donated for global supply. Clear and detailed commitments on this are urgently needed from governments now.

“Vaccines will allow us to make small steps to return to a sense of normality, but will not be on their own a magic or instant end to the pandemic. That can only come with nations, rich and poor, working together in the global, not national, long-term interest. This is a critical time, the decisions countries make now will affect how we spend the next few decades.”

Thursday 17 September 2020

In reaction to G20 Joint Finance & Health Ministers Meeting joint statement [PDF],

Dr Jeremy Farrar, Director of Wellcome, said:
“It is encouraging to hear the G20 Finance and Health Ministers remain committed to investing in an effective response to the Covid-19 pandemic. But we’re running out of time and these warm words must urgently turn into the real investment and global leadership that is needed.

“The ACT-Accelerator urgently needs $35bn to develop and provide tests, treatments and vaccines for the world and to have the health systems to deliver them. So far, less than 10% of this been raised. $35bn is a tiny figure when compared to the trillions the world economy has already lost and will continue to lose as this pandemic continues to reverberate around the world.

“Securing this funding now will prove to be the wisest investment humanity has ever made. Putting it off will only prolong the pandemic and all its dreadful consequences. The actions leaders take today will affect how the world spends the next decade. This needs a moment of historic political and financial leadership.  Leadership that will change the world.  Leadership that will be remembered in a 100 years’ time. But we need it now through actions not words.”

Monday 14 September 2020

In support of publication of the Global Preparedness Monitoring Board (GPMB) Report, World in Disorder,

Dr Jeremy Farrar, Director of Wellcome, said:
“For years, many people have warned of the likelihood of new infectious diseases emerging, and urged the world to invest in preparedness to avoid pandemics like the one we face today. We must take heed of the consequences of not having robust and sustainably financed global preparedness plans – both to end this pandemic and to be better equipped to deal with inevitable future crises.

“Science remains our only true exit strategy from the pandemic. The ACT-Accelerator urgently needs $35bn to develop and provide tests, treatments and vaccines for the world and to have the health systems to deliver them. This is a tiny figure when compared to the trillions the world economy has already lost and will continue to lose as this pandemic continued to reverberate around the world. This would be the greatest investment humanity has ever made. 

“This needs more than warm words of solidarity. This needs a moment of visionary, historic, political and financial leadership. Leadership that will change the world. Leadership that will be remembered in a 100 years-time.”

In response to the RECOVERY Trial's investigation of Regeneron’s REGN-COV2 antibody cocktail, Nick Cammack, COVID-19 Therapeutics Accelerator Lead, said:

“Novel antivirals and monoclonal antibodies are among the most exciting and promising treatments for Covid-19 because they are specific to the disease, but they are also traditionally the most expensive. Large-scale randomised controlled studies like RECOVERY give us the best understanding of whether drugs like REGN-COV2 are safe and effective against Covid-19, but we must ensure that any successful treatment is available to everyone who needs it globally. 

"Finding effective treatments will transform the impact of the pandemic on lives and economies across the world. Dexamethasone remains the only drug that has made a significant difference to patient mortality from Covid-19: we need many more. Investing in research into a wide range of treatments, alongside vaccines and testing, and ensuring all advances are fairly available globally, remains our only exit from the pandemic.” 

Wednesday 09 September 2020

Media statement following Wellcome's background media briefing on Covid-19 vaccines, Dr Jeremy Farrar, Director of Wellcome, said: 
“In the UK and Europe, as case numbers and community transmission continue to rise it will be an incredibly difficult balancing act to continue safely reopening the UK, education and workplaces, while also keeping pressure off hospitals and protecting the most vulnerable. I do not believe we can reopen all parts of the economy and suppress transmission of the virus, we will have to prioritise and make some very tough choices to balance our health and the economy.  After a lull over the summer we are once again at a critical juncture – but one we must not separate from the continuing acceleration of the pandemic in other parts of the world. 

“Science is still moving at an incredible pace. I remain optimistic about the pace of progress. However, the reality today is we remain some way off the range of vaccines and treatments we need. We must be clear; the first vaccines will not be perfect -and they should only be offered first to the 20-30 per cent of the population who are most at risk, including healthcare workers.

“Vaccines will allow us to make small steps to return to a sense of normality, but will not be, on their own a magic or instant end to the pandemic. That can only come with nations, rich and poor, working together in the global, not national, long-term interest.”

In response to the University of Oxford Covid-19 vaccine trial pausing after a participant had a suspected adverse reaction, 

Dr Charlie Weller, Head of Vaccines Programme at Wellcome, said:
“Safety is the most important consideration when developing any vaccine, and it is right for the trial to be paused while an investigation takes place. This is often a normal part of the process in vaccine trials, which involve tens of thousands of people. It’s critical to quickly understand whether the illness has any relationship to the vaccine or the placebo and to share data openly, as Oxford University and Astra-Zeneca have done. 

“Vaccines are among the most rigorously tested and monitored products we have in society, and the Covid-19 vaccines should be no different. We welcome the news that nine vaccine developers have pledged to uphold scientific and ethical standards for these vaccines and prioritise safety.  

“Today’s news reminds us of the importance of funding and developing a wide range of vaccine candidates, alongside treatments and testing. We don’t yet know which will be successful, but ensuring all advances are fairly available globally is our only exit from this pandemic.” 

Wednesday 02 September 2020

In response to 'US refusal to join international effort to develop and distribute Covid-19 vaccine'

Alex Harris, Wellcome’s Head of Global Policy, said:
“It is disappointing that the US has decided not to join COVAX. The only way we’re going to end this pandemic is if countries work together.

“Vaccinating high-risk people in every country first is the fastest and most effective exit strategy. For this reason, countries who have already secured access to a range of potential vaccines should commit to only buying doses for those in greatest need, and donate surplus doses to a central pool. 

“COVAX is working hard to invest in a wide range of vaccine candidates and support a fair allocation of vaccines for the world. By joining these efforts, countries can spread their risks and contribute to a rational and equitable distribution of resources that will lead to better health and economic outcomes. 

“Economic recovery is not possible if large parts of the world are still shut down. The US will not be able to bounce back if its allies and trading partners are still suffering.”

Friday 14 August 2020

In response to an announcement from the UK government on securing new COVID-19 vaccines,

Alex Harris, Wellcome’s Head of Global Policy, said:
“Today’s announcement puts the UK in a strong position. It is great to hear Alok Sharma say that these agreements will ensure fair and equitable access of a vaccine around the world, but it is now urgent that the government explains how.  

“Without this clarity, the risk increases that other rich countries will seek to strike similar bilateral deals, potentially securing significant oversupply, leaving insufficient volumes of vaccine for the rest of the world. 

“Spreading risk by investing in a range of vaccines that use diverse technologies is smart, because we do not yet know which might be successful or the most effective, and not all vaccines will be suitable for all who are at risk. But efforts to do this must be global, countries should only buy doses for those in greatest need – healthcare and essential workers and those at highest risk. Where there is oversupply there must be willingness to donate surplus doses to a central pool. Countries cannot, and do not at this stage need to, buy for every citizen.

“The UK has a proud record of supporting global public health. The government must take the global lead to ensure any advances to test, treat and prevent COVID-19 are available for all nations, rich and poor, alike. It’s not only the right thing to do, it’s in our best interest. Unless every country has access to COVID-19 vaccines and treatments the whole world is at risk.”

Tuesday 11 August 2020

In response to Russian government approval of a COVID-19 vaccine,

Mike Turner, Head of Major Science Investments at Wellcome, said:
“Safety is the most important consideration when developing any vaccine. COVID-19 is the greatest vaccine development challenge in history, but speed should not compromise safety. Without the data on this vaccine being released, it is impossible to assess its efficacy or safety – even in early testing – but this data must be shared openly and transparently to maintain public trust. 

“Before any vaccines are rolled out at a population level, they must be tested in robust clinical trials (Phase 1-3) to ensure they are as safe as possible. Continuing to monitor the safety and efficacy of COVID-19 vaccines will be critical to rapidly picking up on any potential rare side effects, as well as the effectiveness of the vaccines on a large scale.

“To bring this pandemic to an end we need safe and effective vaccines, treatments and diagnostics for COVID-19 available to everyone, everywhere.”

Monday 20 July 2020

In response to positive Phase I/II results for the AZD1222 vaccine​ from the Oxford Vaccine Group and an announcement from the UK government on deals to secure 90 million vaccine doses,

Alex Harris, Wellcome’s Head of Global Policy, said:
“This is just one crucial step but it’s very encouraging, and builds on the incredible global research effort during this crisis. To see promising results from several candidates in months is remarkable, but we must also be prepared for some candidates to fail in the later stages and be realistic about timeframes for manufacturing and rollout.

“Meeting the global demand of billions of doses will require more than one vaccine; it is in the best interest of all governments to work openly and collaboratively, pooling expertise and funding to access the broadest pool of promising candidates.

 “We are very encouraged by the UK’s approach to securing access to a broad pool of vaccine candidates, which puts it in a strong position both in terms of access to vaccines for UK citizens and playing a leadership role in ensuring global equitable access.

“With limited supply globally, we must prioritise vaccine use for healthcare and essential workers, and those most vulnerable, so that sufficient doses are available for priority populations in all countries. This is critical for the first six to nine months of early vaccine availability, when global manufacturing capacity is unlikely to match demand. The UK is now in a strong position to make this a reality.

 “COVID-19 is a global challenge: no one is safe until everyone is safe. The fastest, most effective way to beat the disease and end this pandemic is by securing vaccines, tests and treatments for those who are at most risk everywhere.”

In response to Synairgen announcing positive, preliminary results[PDF] from a clinical trial of a new treatment for COVID-19 in hospitalised patients

Dr Nick Cammack, COVID-19 Therapeutics Accelerator Lead at Wellcome, said:
“Having a wide range of effective COVID-19 treatments is essential. Once the results reported by Synairgen are confirmed, then the signs look promising and could be a significant step forward in COVID-19 treatment research. But, we should remain cautious with our expectations until we see the data published in full.

“In just a few months, we already have two treatments that are proven to reduce hospital stays and mortality from COVID-19 – dexamethasone and remdesivir. But we need many more. Investing in research into a wide range of treatments, alongside vaccines and testing, and ensuring all advances are fairly available globally, is our only exit from this pandemic.”

Friday 10 July 2020

In response to reports that the UK will opt out of the European Union coronavirus vaccine initiative, 

Alex Harris, Wellcome’s Head of Global Policy, said:
“We urgently need countries to work together if we’re to stand any chance of delivering global equitable access to a Covid-19 vaccine.

“The EU vaccine initiative’s cap on how many doses participating countries get is the best way to ensure there is enough vaccine for those in need in the rest of the world. Delivering vaccine according to need and not who can pay the highest price, is not just morally right, but also the fastest way to end this pandemic. We urge the UK government to follow the EU’s lead and only secure vaccine doses for those who need it most (healthcare workers, over sixty fives and other vulnerable groups). This is critical for the first six to nine months of early vaccine availability, when global manufacturing capacity is unlikely to match demand.

There are other multilateral efforts underway, and we strongly encourage the UK government to support these efforts in order to access a broader pool of promising vaccine candidates and enable the same for low and middle income countries.”

Wednesday 08 July 2020

In response to the USA formally notifying withdrawal from the World Health Organization (WHO),

Dr Jeremy Farrar, Director of Wellcome, said:
“Since its inception 70 years ago the World Health Organization has always aspired to ensure better health for everyone, everywhere. The WHO is doing an extraordinary job ensuring every country can tackle COVID-19, protect citizens and save lives. No other organisation can do what they do.

“It is more important than ever that the WHO can operate at full strength to not only bring this pandemic to an end but to ensure it continues improving the health, wellbeing and livelihoods of people around the world now and in the future. It will play a central role in our way out of this pandemic and in addressing the health challenges we will all face in the 21st Century. This is only achieved through solidarity, not division.  

“It is unthinkable and highly irresponsible to withdraw funding from the WHO during one of the greatest health challenges of our lifetime. Health leaders in the USA bring tremendous technical expertise, leadership and influence, and their loss from the world stage will have catastrophic implications, leaving the US and global health weaker as a result.”

Friday 26 June 2020

In response to the update on the Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator (ACT-Accelerator) including publication of investment cases from WHO and partners,

Dr Jeremy Farrar, Director of Wellcome, said: 
“Tests, treatments and vaccines remain our only true exit strategy from this pandemic. Any promising advances that emerge from the global research effort must be made available to everyone, everywhere.  

“Treatments could play a crucial role in ending this pandemic, from preventing infections to speeding patient recovery, working in tandem with a potential vaccine rollout. The Therapeutics Partnership as part of the ACT-Accelerator aims to find, manufacture and deliver 245 million treatments courses by the middle of next year. But to reach our goal, we must invest in scientific research at large scale. The money required seems immense, but the total cost is just a fraction of what the world’s economy is losing each day to this devastating pandemic.  

“No country can go this alone and it’s in the interest of all governments to work openly and collaboratively, with no one left behind. There is no getting around the enormity of the task ahead of us but we must act together now.”

Wednesday 17 June 2020

Media statement in response to European Commission unveils EU vaccines strategy

Alex Harris, Wellcome’s Head of Global Policy, said:

“This is positive news, and we applaud the EU for agreeing to work together to accelerate the development, manufacturing, and deployment of vaccines against COVID-19. This is not just a European challenge, but also a global one. The fastest, most effective way to beat COVID-19 is to globally pool expertise and funding - for that reason we hope other countries will be able to join the EU effort soon. Support for initiatives like this and the ACT-accelerator are essential to ensuring everyone has access to vaccines and treatments.

“We are encouraged by the EU’s ambition to not only reserve future vaccines for their own citizens, but also for low- and middle-income countries at the same time. It is vital that any safe and effective vaccine should go to those who are at most risk everywhere, not just those who can afford to pay the most.

“The EU and other countries must commit to securing only enough doses for their priority populations, so that sufficient doses are available for priority populations in low- and middle-income countries. We strongly support a fair and effective allocation strategy that puts healthcare workers and vulnerable groups first.

“No one is safe until everyone is safe, which means that no country should hoard vaccines or limit manufacturing capacity to domestic needs only. Industry, governments and global health organisations all have a critical role to play in ensuring that we all prioritise the needs of the most vulnerable everywhere. This is our best hope of ending the pandemic.”

Tuesday 16 June 2020

In response to new findings from the RECOVERY Trial on dexamethasone [PDF], proven as the first effective drug to reduce deaths from COVID-19,
Dr Nick Cammack, COVID-19 Therapeutics Accelerator Lead at Wellcome, said:

“This is a major breakthrough: dexamethasone is the first and only drug that has made a significant difference to patient mortality for COVID-19. Potentially preventing 1 death in every 8 ventilated patients would be remarkable. Finding effective treatments like this will transform the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on lives and economies across the world. While this study suggests dexamethasone only benefits severe cases, countless lives will be saved globally.

“Dexamethasone must now be rolled out and accessed by thousands of critically ill patients around the world. It is highly affordable, easy to make, can be scaled up quickly and only needs a small dosage. Any and every successful treatment against COVID-19 must be made available to everyone who needs it globally, regardless of their ability to pay.

“Large-scale randomised controlled studies like the RECOVERY Trial give us the best possible understanding of whether drugs like dexamethasone are safe and effective against COVID-19. To see these results in such a short period of time is an incredible scientific achievement. The data will give researchers around the world a better understanding of why the drug is effective in these patients.

“This is extremely promising news and a significant step forward, but we still have a long way to go. To end this pandemic, we still need better diagnostics to detect, medicines to treat and vaccines to prevent COVID-19.”

Thursday 04 June 2020

In response to the Global Vaccine Summit 2020, Dr Charlie Weller, Head of Vaccines at Wellcome, said:
“No child should die from vaccine-preventable diseases. We are delighted that Gavi has exceeded its target and secured $8.8bn funding over the next five years, which will save up to 8 million lives in some of the world’s poorest countries.

“Immunisation is the backbone of global health, and the COVID-19 pandemic is a sobering reminder that diseases do not respect borders. Until every country is protected against COVID-19, the world will continue to be at risk. 

“Equal access to any – and every – successful COVID-19 vaccine is essential. The COVAX Facility, announced today, highlights the importance of global collaboration and will help to ensure that doses of any successful vaccine will be available to everyone, regardless of their ability to pay. 

“Alongside COVID-19 vaccine development, we must maintain routine immunisation where safe and feasible, to prevent outbreaks of other deadly diseases like measles and polio. Maintaining routine immunisation will also enable the smooth delivery of any successful COVID-19 vaccines, once they are developed. Gavi plays a pivotal role in achieving this, and governments, businesses and philanthropy must continue to champion and invest in immunisation systems in every country.”

Tuesday 02 June 2020

Media statement following Wellcome's COVID-19 treatments background media briefing 

Dr Nick Cammack, COVID-19 Therapeutics Accelerator Lead at Wellcome, said: 

“Until we have reliable tests to detect, medicines to treat, and vaccines to prevent COVID-19, it will keep going around the world in waves. A combination of all three is essential.

“If successful, repurposing existing medicines could be a game-changer. They’re already approved, are generally affordable, and can be manufactured at scale. These medicines may not be a ‘cure-all’ for COVID-19, but they could make the difference between life and death, or between short- and long-term hospital stays. This is particularly important for countries with fragile health systems.

“Any – and all – effective treatments for COVID-19 must be available to everybody around the world. As long as COVID-19 is out of control somewhere, it is a threat everywhere. Manufacturing and rolling out of any successful treatments will take a huge amount of funding, so governments, industry and philanthropic organisations must boldly come together and join this effort. No country will be able to meet this global demand alone.”

Tuesday 19 May 2020

Media statement in response to the COVID-19 Resolution passing at the World Health Assembly

Alex Harris, Head of Global Policy and Advocacy at Wellcome, said:

“This year’s World Health Assembly has rightly put global equitable access at the heart of its COVID-19 resolution.  COVID-19 has reached every corner of the world and the diagnostics, vaccines and treatments that will help bring this pandemic to an end must also.

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

“Industry, governments and global health organisations all have a critical role to play. Support for organisations like GAVI and CEPI are essential to ensure everyone has access to vaccines and treatments, and we need to commit ourselves to making them available in a way that’s never been done before.

“We have seen some governments seek to secure deals with industry that puts their citizens first. But it is crucial that global leaders unite to support advances that test, treat and prevent COVID-19 everywhere – this is the only way to stop this pandemic and prevent future tragedies.

“A recent Wellcome survey has shown overwhelming support for this – adults polled in the US, UK and Germany strongly believe that COVID-19 treatments and vaccines should first be provided to those who need them most in the world.

“The only way out of this pandemic is to invest now at scale and at risk and to unite to ensure in future we can test, treat and prevent COVID-19 everywhere. For as long as COVID-19 is out of control somewhere, it is a threat everywhere.”

Monday 04 May 2020

Following the Coronavirus Global Response International Pledging Conference, Dr Jeremy Farrar, Director of Wellcome, said:

“It is encouraging to see much of the world coming together to find solutions to this global crisis, we should celebrate the fact that so many countries joined today’s pledging conference and committed to an unprecedented global effort. 

“An initial $8bn is urgently needed to research and develop vaccines, treatments and tests. After today’s conference, the European Commission has calculated that €7.4bn has been pledged. This is a good start, but we need to see the full detail of these commitments. This funding needs to be made available immediately for the urgent research that is needed and to ensure the world has capacity to make diagnostics, treatments and vaccines available on an equitable basis to the world, to everyone.  Every day counts. 

“Science is the only true exit strategy for this COVID-19 crisis. We hope that all governments, businesses and philanthropy will join us as soon as possible to make this a truly global effort. 

“The pace and impact of this virus is unprecedented, our global response must be too.”

Ahead of the Coronavirus Global Response International Pledging Conference, Dr Jeremy Farrar, Director of Wellcome, said:

“It is encouraging to see the world coming together to find solutions to this crisis. COVID-19 is, I believe, an endemic human infection and future waves are inevitable in every country. It is a virus for which, as yet, there is no proven prevention or cure, but there is hope.

“The research effort to rapidly develop the vaccines, treatments and diagnostics needed to save lives has been nothing short of staggering.

“But global support for these vital efforts is still falling short, despite repeated calls from the global health community. An initial $8bn is urgently needed. Further funding delays risks this critical research not happening and take us further away from finding effective vaccines and treatments. Every day counts – to save lives and protect the global economy, which some have estimated is shrinking by up $200 billion a week.

“Science is the only true exit strategy for this COVID-19 crisis. Only when we have tools to detect, treat and prevent it everywhere, will we be able to stop this pandemic and prevent future tragedies.

“We urgently need this money to start rolling in fast, at scale. Wellcome has built on our founding investment in CEPI of $100 million with a further commitment of $50 million to set up the COVID-19 Therapeutics Accelerator, a joint initiative with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Mastercard to speed up the development of and access to treatments.  In addition Wellcome has made available £10M to support urgent coronavirus research in lower and middle income countries and continued our existing support for researchers around the world who are now shifting their focus to COVID19 work. 

"We urge governments, businesses and philanthropy to come together now to fill this funding gap. The pace and impact of the spread of this virus is unprecedented, our global response must be too.”

Thursday 30 April 2020

In response to announcement on Oxford University and AstraZenica partnership, Dr Charlie Weller, Head of Vaccines Programme at Wellcome, said:

“An effective vaccine for COVID-19 will save countless lives across the world. The world must be prepared to execute the largest and fastest scale up in vaccine manufacturing in history, and we need to start building new manufacturing sites now. But alongside COVID-19 vaccine development, we must continue to focus on routine immunisation for everyone and maintain the production of existing vaccines.

“Losing sight of the long-term would have serious consequences: the legacy of this pandemic should not include the global resurgence of infectious diseases like measles and polio, which had previously been brought under control. Secondary outbreaks of these diseases would also add an additional burden to already fragile healthcare systems.

“COVID-19 is a solvable problem, but there is an initial global funding shortfall of at least $8billion for development into vaccines, treatments and tests that needs to be filled urgently.

“We need a vaccine that will work for the world, and any advances must be available to all countries equally, without exception. For as long as COVID-19 is out of control somewhere, it is a threat everywhere. The only way out of this pandemic is by working together and ensuring all countries, especially those with more fragile health systems, have the tools and resources needed to tackle this.” 

Wednesday 29 April 2020

In response to announcement from the Serum Institute on efforts to make millions of potential coronavirus vaccine doses, Dr Charlie Weller, Head of Vaccines Programme at Wellcome, said:

“An effective vaccine for COVID-19 will save countless lives across the world. The world must be prepared to execute the largest and fastest scale up in vaccine manufacturing in history, and we need to start building new manufacturing sites now. But alongside COVID-19 vaccine development, we must continue to focus on routine immunisation for everyone and maintain the production of existing vaccines.

“Losing sight of the long-term would have serious consequences: the legacy of this pandemic should not include the global resurgence of infectious diseases like measles and polio, which had previously been brought under control. Secondary outbreaks of these diseases would also add an additional burden to already fragile healthcare systems.

“COVID-19 is a solvable problem, but there is an initial global funding shortfall of at least $8billion for development into vaccines, treatments and tests that needs to be filled urgently.

“We need a vaccine that will work for the world, and any advances must be available to all countries equally, without exception. For as long as COVID-19 is out of control somewhere, it is a threat everywhere. The only way out of this pandemic is by working together and ensuring all countries, especially those with more fragile health systems, have the tools and resources needed to tackle this.” 

Friday 24 April 2020

In response to announcements from the World Health Organization (WHO) and European Commission on global efforts to accelerate new COVID-19 health technologies, Alex Harris, Head of Global Policy and Advocacy at Wellcome, said:

“The pace of science since the very first cases of this virus emerged has been breath-taking. That incredible effort from research teams worldwide means we are, in less than four months, seeing multiple promising clinical trials of the vaccines, treatments and diagnostics. These medical tools are our only long-term way out of this pandemic. 

“Two things are now critical – global funding to support the unprecedented acceleration and scale-up of medical research, and global commitment to ensuring any advances are available to all countries equally, without exception. The cost of funding the multiple approaches needed to develop and deliver vaccines, treatments and tests and then the manufacture and distribution needed to deliver them to the entire world, will be huge. It will take billions and billions of dollars. The initial seed funding for this effort has been calculated at $8billion (7.5bn EURO). This is needed now but despite being identified two months ago, global support is  still nowhere near this. The European Union Coronavirus Global Response will be a critical step to ensuring countries, business and philanthropy around the world step-up to provide the funding urgently needed. 

“Many of the organisations supporting the drive for vaccines, tests and treatments already have equitable access at their core. But equitable access cannot be achieved by one organisation or one country alone. No country should consider that putting their own citizens first means reserving possible future vaccines and treatments for their use only.  This approach will cost lives and prolong the pandemic for every country. Viruses know no borders, as COVID-19 has proven.  The health, social and economic devastation of this virus is affecting communities in every corner of the world. And for as long as COVID-19 is out of control somewhere, it is a threat to everywhere. So, 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.

“The only way out of this pandemic is by working together and ensuring all countries, especially those with more fragile health systems, have the tools and resources needed to tackle this. Global cooperation, guided by the WHO, is key if we’re to end this pandemic as quickly as possible, save as many lives as possible and get the world back to some sense of normality.”

Dr Jeremy Farrar, Director of Wellcome, said:
“Amidst the horror of this pandemic, this partnership does offer us our greatest hope, and also, by bringing everybody together, the greatest chance to deliver. The whole world is affected and the whole world must come together to find an equitable way through this. We must leave no one behind, as we've heard repeatedly today.

“Physical distancing, testing isolation, and the best clinical care are absolutely crucial now. This is now a human endemic infection, it will not disappear. This is not SARS. The only true exit strategy is through science and the manufacturing of that science and the equitable distribution to the world, to make sure everybody receives it, independent of their ability to pay.

“And we do need all. We need diagnostics, we need treatment, and we need vaccines. And we have to have the capacity to deliver them, not just make them. This is what this unprecedented partnership can, and this is what this unprecedented partnership will, deliver.

“Thank you to the inspirational comments and support from all the world leaders today to WHO, to the global agencies to citizens and philanthropy and also to the private sector who have come together, under the coordination of the WHO, in an unprecedented way to address an unprecedented crisis.

“A chance to end this pandemic. Through multilateralism a way out of the this pandemic and out of this crisis. The chance to actually forge a better world a better world, which is more equitable and which commits to public health. That is the prize of our time. Yes for COVID-19, but actually beyond COVID-19 to the whole of public health. It's a question of social justice and equity, it's a question of the sort of world that we want to live in.

“Thank you Dr Tedros, thank you to yourself, the great leadership through this, but also thank you to your great team, alongside you, who have made this happen, and it has not been always easy. And I pay tribute view to all the health care workers all over the world. They are putting their lives at risk, so that all of us can be that little bit safer. “The hard work starts now. And nobody should be under any illusion, this is going to be incredibly hard work. But together we can. Together, we will. And together we must.”

Thursday 23 April 2020

In response to new UK study to track COVID-19 infection and immunity levels, Dr Jeremy Farrar, Director of Wellcome, said:
“We need much better information about how many people are infected and how many people have had Covid-19 before we can be in a position to start looking at lifting restrictions in the UK. That’s why today’s announcement is so important as this testing of households across the country for the next year will help us build this picture. The samples from this programme will be tested at a central lab facility to ensure that the results are accurate.   

“The results of this testing will help us track the spread of the virus within families and communities across the country and provide a true indication of how many of us have been infected in the past."

Jeremy Farrar is a member of the Government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) and chaired the group who developed this testing programme

Wednesday 22 April 2020

Dr Jeremy Farrar, Director of Wellcome, said: 
“My belief is that this is now an endemic human infection. It has been in obviously millions of people already. And it is likely that this is here with the human race for the future.

“We’re right to focus on the here and now, but we've got to have a longer term strategy, so that we can avoid those future waves, and also make sure that we're as prepared as possible with the true exit strategy. That’s not just further lockdowns and physical distancing. Those buy you time, they may reduce the peak, but they're not true exit strategy. The only way forward, is to invest, to invest at scale, at risk, and in parallel rather than in sequence, in all that it is going to take for the world to have treatments and vaccines available. It's enlightened self-interest that we push all of these treatments and vaccines forward, that we commit at the start to make them available, independent of people's ability to pay. It’s the only way to address this that would protect everything in this world wherever you are. “

“This will not come cheap, it will require billions and billions of dollars to do this. It will require alignment across countries, it will rely on alignment across agencies: the WHO, the World Bank, governments, philanthropy, scientists, industry in an unprecedented approach to make this happen. It will have to be co-ordinated. Right now, as a seed, to start this off, we believe there's a funding gap still of about $8 billion.”

Dr Charlie Weller, Head of Vaccines at Wellcome, said:
“This would be the fastest we've ever gone from discovering a brand new pathogen to developing a vaccine against it. The world really needs to be prepared to execute the largest and fastest scale up in vaccine manufacturing history. The clinical trials need to be run across the world, not just in high-income countries, to determine whether the vaccines are effective for everyone. We need the highest levels of global co-ordination to ensure that we can select the strongest candidates.”

Wednesday 15 April 2020

In response to the President of the USA halting funding for the World Health Organization in reaction to the novel coronavirus response, Dr Jeremy Farrar, Director of Wellcome, said: 

“The World Health Organization (WHO) plays a critical role and needs more resources, not less, if we’re to have the best chance of bringing this pandemic to an end. We are facing the greatest challenge of our lifetime and the WHO is doing an extraordinary job ensuring every country can tackle this virus, protect citizens and save lives. No other organisation can do what they do and we owe them all our respect, thanks and gratitude.  This is a time for solidarity not division.

“Viruses know no borders, as COVID-19 has proven. The only way out of this pandemic is by working together and ensuring all countries, especially lower and middle income countries, have the tools and resources to tackle this. Global cooperation, guided by the WHO, is key if we’re to end this pandemic as quickly as possible, save as many lives as possible and get the world back to some sense of normality.

“Alongside essential public health measures and good clinical care, we urgently need to fund the development of vaccines and treatments, and ensure they are available in every country – or this disease will keep on coming back to endanger us all. We urge all nations to increase their support for WHO at this time of global emergency.”

Thursday 26 March 2020

In response to UK Government on research funding announcement and G20 Leaders statement on COVID-19, Dr Jeremy Farrar, Director of Wellcome said:

“Support from enlightened Governments, with commitment to the global research effort is vital if we are to end this pandemic and prevent future tragedies. The pace and impact of the spread of this virus is unprecedented, our global response must be too. The research effort to rapidly advance the vaccines, treatments and diagnostics needed to save lives has been nothing short of staggering. Global support is still, however, falling seriously short – by at least $8 billion in the short-term.  

“The support announced today by the UK Government Department for International Development is vital and, critically, supports efforts across borders.

“We now need many more countries and global financial institutions, like the World Bank and International Monetary Fund,  to step-up with urgency and act boldly. The commitment by G20 leaders to coordinate research efforts, while welcome, does not go far enough or have sufficient urgency. Science is the only exit strategy from this pandemic – it needs greater financial support with all advances available to those that need them, regardless of where they live.”

Monday 16 March 2020

In response to announcements today by UK Government and G7 Leaders, Dr Jeremy Farrar, Director of Wellcome, said: 
“The measures outlined by the UK Government are essential. Now is the time for drastic action. It will be challenging, but it will give us the best chance to save lives. Globally, and at this point particularly across Europe, this pandemic is having a devastating effect on communities.

“Health care teams are already working under extreme strain, and deserve all our thanks and support. Getting the public health response right now is vital if we are to prevent health systems collapsing under the pressure.

“Scientists worldwide continue to work at an unprecedented pace to deepen our understanding of COVID-19. The evidence we have is clear, only by taking extraordinary measures and by us all committing to limit social contact, stop mass gatherings, and stop non-essential travel can we reduce the spread of this disease and give health services the best opportunity to cope. What we do now as individuals, families, communities and as businesses, will make a difference.

“But this is not simply about the actions of national Governments. Global powers can and must do more to support all countries, particularly those with fragile health systems. The commitment from G7 leaders is critical to ensure the stability of the global economy and to support the continued research effort, including for vaccines, treatments and diagnostics. At least $8 billion is needed for this in the short term – and must come with a commitment to ensure equitable access in all countries. This virus transcends all borders, our response must also.”

Friday 13 March 2020

In reaction to G20 statement on COVID-19, Alex Harris, Head of Global Policy at Wellcome, said:
“We strongly support the G20’s call for a robust international response to the COVID-19 pandemic. This virus has spread in every climate condition and respects no borders - now is the time for swift action to ensure that no country is left behind.

“We are calling for G7 and G20 nations to commit at least $8 billion of new funding to address urgent gaps in the global response to COVID-19, including the development of diagnostics, treatments and vaccines, alongside essential public health measures. This is a global problem that requires all nations to unite.”

Wednesday 11 March 2020

In reaction to the World Health Organization (WHO) labelling COVID-19 as a pandemic, Dr Jeremy Farrar, Director of Wellcome, said:
“The WHO is right to declare this a pandemic. We are in extraordinary times, the continued rapid spread of this virus is extremely challenging to control and poses an unprecedented global challenge.

"The COVID-19 outbreak is not just a public health crisis, it’s a global crisis – of health, economics and politics. This requires an immediate response co-ordinated by the WHO, with the full support of the international community. Infectious diseases do not respect borders. We need sustained and co-ordinated action by all governments and global institutions if we are to avert long-term catastrophe worldwide. 

"Over recent weeks the World Health Organization and many governments around the world have acted decisively, every country must now follow their lead. The crucial public health measures taken by some have undoubtedly reduced the impact of this virus and bought everyone critical time. But now everyone, everywhere must use this short window of opportunity to intensify and maximise all efforts to contain this virus, prepare our health systems and communities for the inevitable impact. 

"The decisions made in the coming days and weeks will be crucial. We can still change the course of this pandemic. We offer our very strongest support to the WHO and the health workers working tirelessly on behalf of us all. We can reduce the impact of this pandemic and save lives around the world.  But it needs all of us."

In reaction to new COVID-19 funding in UK Government’s Budget, 
Alex Harris, Head of Global Policy at Wellcome, said: 
“This is a vital commitment from the UK government in response to extraordinary times. Globally we have also seen significant commitments from the European Commission, World Bank and International Monetary Fund. By investing in accelerating research into treatments, vaccines and diagnostics, we can make a huge difference to getting ahead of the rapid spread of COVID-19.

"We must not lose sight of the fact this is a global problem and will be with us for some time. Epidemics do not respect borders and we will need further co-ordinated global investment in research and public health to bring this outbreak to an end and avert catastrophe.  

"We must continue to unite behind this international effort and ensure that everyone can benefit from all advances made, so that no country is left behind.”

Tuesday 03 March 2020

Dr Jeremy Farrar, Director of Wellcome, said:
“This is a remarkable and unprecedented move by the World Bank – and one which will make a huge difference to the global response to this already immensely challenging epidemic.

“This support will be critical to enabling efforts globally to get ahead of the rapid spread of COVID-19. This is not simply a health crisis - it is a global crisis which is already impacting every sector of society. This commitment from the World Bank is needed if we are to have a chance of averting long-term catastrophe worldwide. It will be vital to supporting the ongoing global response, co-ordinated by the WHO, and to support health systems and societies around the world, particularly in vulnerable regions.

"It will also facilitate accelerated research and development of vaccines, diagnostics and treatments, ensuring equitable access to advances made. The World Bank deserves great credit for the speed and scale of its response.”

Thursday 27 February 2020

Dr Jeremy Farrar, Director of Wellcome, said:
“The continued rapid spread of this virus is extremely challenging to control and poses an unprecedented global challenge – to health systems, economies and to societies around the world. We cannot afford to wait and see.

“Researchers around the world are increasing our understanding of this virus at an incredible pace. The World Health Organization and governments around the world have stepped up their response, implementing crucial public health measures which have undoubtedly reduced the impact and bought everyone critical time, we must use this window of opportunity.

“But now, what we are really missing, is tangible, high-level funding and support from global financial institutions including the World Bank, Regional Development Banks and the International Monetary Fund. The possible impact of this coronavirus is far beyond a health emergency – it’s a global crisis with potential to reach the scale of the global financial crisis of 2008. These institutions, designed to act as the world’s insurance policy, were quick to act then and can no longer stand by in the face of a crisis that is no less threatening. 

"An urgent commitment of $10 billion, with more to follow as needed, is essential from the World Bank to underpin the public health measures in low- and middle-income countries, coordinated by the WHO alongside critical investment in diagnostics, therapeutics and vaccines. Anything less leaves us at risk of much greater costs later and long-term catastrophe. The sums are considerable. The decision to release funds should not be taken lightly, but the stakes could not be higher.

“By instigating a bigger and more united multilateral effort, we can ensure no country is left behind, in particular those with fragile health systems in low and middle income countries.”

Wednesday 12 February 2020

Dr Jeremy Farrar, Director of Wellcome said:
"This is an unprecedented outbreak – of a virus never seen before, spreading in a way which makes it extremely challenging to control. We cannot yet predict how grave the impact may be in any country beyond China now seeing cases. We do know the impact this is having in China and should applaud their extraordinary efforts to contain it. We can, however, be sure no country can afford to wait and see. For every country, now is the time to act.

"The only way to get ahead of this epidemic, to ensure the best public health preparation and response and to protect lives globally is to put science and research at the heart of the response. Over the past two days the global effort to further enhance the research agenda has been phenomenal. Thanks to the World Health Organization, to researchers, country governments, industry, journal editors and funders from every country and continent we now have a clear plan of immediate and longer-term priorities to build a robust global response. Crucially there was also unambiguous commitment to solidarity and to equitable access to all advances made.

"We must continue to unite behind this international effort, making sure no country is left behind, and without forgetting the support needed for those continuing to tackle the many other health challenges faced by different communities globally, including Ebola."

Thursday 30 January 2020

Dr Jeremy Farrar, Director of Wellcome:
“It is absolutely right to have declared a Public Health Emergency of International Concern.

“Countries, public health teams and researchers worldwide have been acting on this with the very highest level of concern for the last few weeks. But this virus has spread at unprecedented scale and speed, with cases passing between people in multiple countries across the world.

 “Declaration of an international emergency will undoubtedly sharpen governments’ focus on protecting citizens. But we must also step-up as an international community to make sure no one is left behind - with all interventions, including public health measures, diagnostics, treatments and vaccines available to everyone.  This will challenge the best resourced countries  but will have disproportionate impact on fragile health systems in low and middle income countries.

“The virus is certainly spreading person-to-person in those with mild symptoms and possibly in those very early in illness with no symptoms. This makes it extremely challenging to control, and we do not have proven treatments or vaccines. A global epidemic of a rapid-spreading novel respiratory virus like this, which has crossed from animals to humans, is something warned of for many years. It is also a stark reminder of how vulnerable we are to epidemics of infectious diseases known and unknown.

 “Accelerating research, with all data promptly shared through the WHO, is key to saving lives and ending this epidemic. But while clinicians, public health communities and researchers globally continue to work tirelessly to address the many uncertainties and unknowns, robust public health measures are critical.

“Vaccine, treatment and diagnostics trials are underway, but will take time. These need international support and funding. We also need urgently to determine how long people are infectious, how the virus transmits, who is most at risk – as well as ensuring the best caring for all affected.

 “We must commend China for its response, and its commitment to the health of its citizens and the world. The nurses, doctors and other health care workers caring for their patients and communities in difficult and often frightening circumstances deserve all our thanks and support.

“We must all take this very seriously, use the best available evidence to inform policy, be open about uncertainties and support the public health authorities and healthcare workers working non-stop and in very challenging conditions to keep us all safe.”

Thursday 23 January 2020

Dr Jeremy Farrar, Director of Wellcome:
"We respect the advice of the World Health Organization’s Emergency Committee to not declare a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) today, but this must be kept under constant review. Countries should act now on the recommendations made by the Committee on how best to prepare and respond to this epidemic. There is no need to wait.

"The decision does not change the fact that the urgent focus must remain on identifying the gaps in understanding of this virus, and on a continued robust, coordinated global public health response.

"This outbreak and the speed with which this new virus has spread in China and travelled across borders, is a reminder of how vulnerable we are globally to outbreaks of infectious diseases known and unknown. Travel restrictions may be important in buying time, to signal the seriousness of the situation and may help reduce the impact but are unlikely stop this epidemic. 

"Accelerating research as well as the public health response is key to bringing this under control. We still don’t fully understand how this virus is passing person to person, how and when people are infectious, the full range of clinical symptoms, or know the animal source. We don’t have proven treatments or vaccines.

"This virus has crossed from animals into people. That does not happen often, and it is without doubt, very serious. People are scarred by the memory of SARS, and a global outbreak of a novel respiratory virus like this, is something experts have warned about for many years. 

"But we have also made important progress on epidemic preparedness. In the wake of the West African Ebola crisis, CEPI (the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations) was founded. Today CEPI launched three programmes to speed vaccine research for this new coronavirus, and in China treatments are being tried and the information shared. 

"While much uncertainty remains, it is vital to maintain focus on answering the critical unanswered questions and use the best available evidence to implement the most impactful public health response. This has to have the full support of the international community, be led by China, and co-ordinated by the WHO. This is not just China’s problem, this is for all of us."

Tuesday 21 January 2020

Dr Jeremy Farrar, Director of Wellcome: 
"This outbreak is extremely concerning. Person-to-person transmission has been confirmed and, as expected, we are seeing rapidly increasing case numbers across China, and in more countries, with health care workers infected. The World Health Organization’s role is to ensure the global public health response to any new outbreak is rapid, robust and comprehensive. Given the geographic spread of cases, calling the Emergency Committee to consider whether to declare an international public health emergency should now be a part of this process.

"The speed with which this virus has been identified is testament to changes in public health in China since SARS and strong global coordination through the WHO. However, we know there is more to come from this outbreak - and with travel being a huge part of the fast approaching Chinese New Year, it is right that concern levels are at the highest level.

"A major concern is the range of severity of symptoms this virus is causing. It is clear some people are being affected and are infectious while experiencing only very mild symptoms or possibly without experiencing symptoms at all (asymptomatic). This may be masking the true numbers infected and the extent of person to person transmission. It is a matter of urgency to work this out.

"The world is much better prepared to identify patients and take the necessary public health and clinical measures, than it was during SARS, nearly two decades ago. However, we still do not understand this virus or the public health and clinical impact. The urgent focus must be on evidence-based interventions. We also do not have proven treatments or vaccines. CEPI (the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations), which Wellcome supports, is now working with global partners to accelerate vaccine research for this new virus."

Saturday 18 January 2020

Dr Jeremy Farrar, Director of Wellcome:
"Uncertainty and gaps remain, but it’s clear that there is some level of person to person transmission. We are starting to hear of more cases in China and other countries and it is likely, as this modelling shows, that there will be many more cases, in a number of countries. The speed with which this virus has been identified and the sharing of that information by China, has been amazing, a testament to the changes in public health in China since SARS and the global coordination through the World Health Organization. That has meant that the world is much more prepared to identify patients and take the necessary public health and clinical measures than it was even a week ago.

"It is possible that the often mild symptoms, and probability of people being affected and infectious without experiencing symptoms (asymptomatic), from this coronavirus may be masking the true numbers of people who have been infected, and the extent of person-to-person transmission. It is also probable that we are looking at patients being affected over a number of days from multiple animal sources and with some degree of human to human transmission.

"The speed of response is testimony to improved global preparedness. But we must not be complacent, there is still much to be done to ensure countries across the world are protecting people from epidemic threats of diseases known and unknown.

"Ongoing research, with continued prompt and full data sharing, is vital to ensuring the correct response to this outbreak. Wuhan is a major hub and with travel being a huge part of the fast approaching Chinese New Year, the concern level must remain high. There is more to come from this epidemic."

Dr Mike Turner, Director of Science at Wellcome: 
"We are in the early stages of this outbreak. There has been some excellent and very speedy work by authorities in China and the research results have been made available to the world very rapidly indeed. This is making it easier to monitor the spread of the disease. Despite which, estimates of the size of any outbreak are very difficult to predict at this early stage but it is clearly still spreading. We are all more concerned than we were three days ago. One of the consequences of a more connected world is that outbreaks have to potential to spread internationally much more rapidly than was the case 50 years ago. Whether health screening at airports makes a useful contribution to reducing spread is a moot point."

Thursday 16 January 2020 

Dr Jeremy Farrar, Director of Wellcome:
"News of a case in Japan is extremely concerning - but it is not surprising that we are starting to hear of more cases in other countries.  

"It is possible that the often mild symptoms from this coronavirus may be masking the true numbers of people who have been infected, or the extent of person to person transmission. It is probable that we are looking at patients being affected over a number of days from multiple animals sources and with some degree of human to human transmission.  

"Ongoing research, with prompt and full data sharing between the teams now working together across China and globally on building the information, is vital to ensuring the correct response to this outbreak.  

"Wuhan is a major hub and with travel being a huge part of the fast approaching Chinese New Year, the concern level must remain high."

Friday 10 January 2020 

Dr Jeremy Farrar, Director of Wellcome: 
"In Wuhan there has not been a new confirmed case for around two weeks and the available evidence does not suggest significant human to human transmission. Both of these are reassuring for now. 

"So far the health authorities in China have shown they are taking a careful and thorough approach, taking the time necessary to carry out thorough tests and to ensure correct diagnosis and not rush to conclusions. This is important because when public health responses are rushed, problems follow – as we saw with early responses to the Nipah outbreak in 1999. 

"But significant information gaps remain. And now this has been identified as a novel coronavirus it is critical, indeed an obligation, to make to make that information available to the world through the recognised mechanism of the WHO so that other countries can be appropriately prepared."

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