Uh oh, you are using an old web browser that we no longer support. Some of this website's features may not work correctly because of this. Learn about updating to a more modern browser here.

Skip To Content

Rich countries need to spend just 60p a week per citizen to stock world with COVID-19 vaccines, says Save the Children

  • Economic cost of failing to back global vaccination drive will be 35 times the required funding, new analysis reveals

London, 21 May 2021 – Rich countries at next month’s G7 summit need to spend an average of just 60p a week per citizen to help supply the poorest countries with COVID-19 vaccines, analysis from Save the Children has revealed.

Failure to back the global vaccination drive could cost the same economies thirty-five times the required investment, according to the charity’s calculations.

Official figures show the pandemic has so far taken 3 million lives, with true figures likely to be far higher. It plunged up to 142 million children into poverty in 2020.

Kirsty McNeill, Save the Children’s Director of Policy and Campaigns, said:

“Today’s figures show the question isn’t whether rich countries can afford to fund a fair rollout of covid-19 vaccines, but whether they can afford not to. It’s an investment that will pay off thirty-five times over.

“For just the price of a chocolate bar a week per citizen, rich countries can stave off huge economic losses resulting from prolonging the pandemic. The UK alone risks losing more than £70 billion. That’s enough to pay the salaries of more than 210,000 nurses for ten years.[i]

“The evidence is increasingly clear. When it comes to tackling the pandemic, solidarity and self-interest are one and the same. Children and families in the UK and across the world depend on the decisions G7 leaders will make next month. They must not squander this opportunity to crack the covid crisis for everyone, everywhere.”

While rich countries are approaching vaccine coverage rates approaching half the adult population, much of sub-Saharan Africa has reached less than 2% of their adults. As the wealthiest countries debate whether to vaccinate children and provide booster jabs, health workers in poorer countries are fighting the pandemic on the front-line without protection.

As part of a movement including leading epidemiologists and a coalition representing 12 million people in the UK, Save the Children is calling for G7 countries to properly fund the global initiative to tackle the pandemic, the ‘Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator’ (ACT-A).

It is estimated ACT-A will need around £46.5 billion ($66 bn) over two years for enough doses to vaccinate adults in poorer countries across the world. Under a plan backed by campaigners, rich countries attending the G7 summit would pay £30.3 billion ($43 bn), or around two thirds of the total.

Save the Children examined the contribution needed from each of these countries and found that the remaining gaps amount to an average of less than 60p a week per citizen. The cost per adult to the UK is even less, at just 50p.

According to respected modelling commissioned by the International Chamber of Commerce, low vaccination rates in poorer countries will cause disruption to trade and delayed recovery costing rich economies at G7 £0.9 trillion ($1.3 tn)[ii].

When compared with the required investment, the cost of inaction heavily outweighs the cost of support. For every £1 invested in global vaccination, the G7 will collectively avoid around £35 in economic losses.

Exact figures vary between nations, depending on their outstanding contributions and projected economic losses. The UK stands to save around £40 for each £1 invested.

Viewed as an insurance policy, spending on ACT-A is a premium with a huge payout.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has pledged that beating coronavirus will be high on the G7’s agenda when they meet in Cornwall in June.

And the analysis is published on the same day as leaders come together for the Global Health Summit, where Save the Children says they must lay down a marker by committing to scale up support to ACT-A and take urgent action to support the equitable rollout of vaccines.

Save the Children says that financing is a key part of a package that must also include rich countries sharing a proportion of the vaccines they have ordered and using all tools available to distribute technology and knowhow that will maximise the world’s ability to manufacture doses.

Recent polling shows that three quarters of the UK public believe the pandemic will not be over until it has ended everywhere, and that people at home are still at risk if virus thriving elsewhere in the world.

Notes to editors:

[i] Reported in the i: The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) has estimated that an average NHS nurse’s pay is £33,384 - https://inews.co.uk/nhs/nurse-salary-how-much-uk-nurses-get-paid-average-nhs-pay-rise-earn-899582. Ten year of salary is £333,840 The UK’s economic losses are projected to be £71.25 bn. 71.25 bn / 333,840 = 213,425.6

[ii]Çakmaklı, C., S. Demiralp, S. Kalemli-Özcan et al. (2021). The Economic Case for Global Vaccinations: An Epidemiological Model with International Production Networks. NBER Working Paper 28395, https://www.nber.org/papers/w28395. We rely on scenario 3, specification 3 in the analysis as the most likely case.