World Leaders Pledge 7.4 Billion Euros to Research Covid-19 Vaccine
World heads, with the striking exception of Donald Trump, stumped up almost €7.4bn (£6.5bn) to study Covid-19 vaccines and treatments at a virtual meet assembled by the European Union, pledging the money will also be used to distribute any vaccine to developing countries on time and equitably.
But in a sign of the fractured state of global health diplomacy, the event was not greeted by India, Russia, or the US. After a weekend of persuasion, China was served by its ambassador to the EU.
A separate Covid-19 summit was staged earlier in the day and marked by the Indian prime minister, Narendra Modi, and other world leaders, including the Iranian president, Hassan Rouhani.
The EU-convened virtual summit was addressed in person by the leaders of France, Germany, Spain, Italy, Canada, Japan, Jordan, Norway, Israel, South Africa, and the EU. It became the form of a pledging marathon.
The money is primarily designed to rush up the process by putting guaranteed funds to coordinate research and incentivize pharmaceutical organizations to distribute any vaccines and therapies to developing countries, something that did not occur in the 2009 swine flu outburst.
EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen announced the money would support kickstart unprecedented global co-operation. She said it conferred the actual value of unity and humanity, but cautioned much more would be needed in the days forward. In total, more than 30 countries, along with UN and philanthropic organizations and research institutes, made contributions.
The European Commission pledged $1bn to subsidize research on a vaccine. Norway equaled the European Commission’s donation, and France has pledged €500m, as have Saudi Arabia and Germany. Japan pledged more than $800m. Switzerland pledged €378 million. The Netherlands promised €192 million. Hard-hit Italy announced it would provide more than €100 million. Spain promised to give €125 million, with €50 million going GAVI and €75 million to the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations.
Of the money raised, $4.4bn will go on vaccine development, some $2bn on the search for a treatment, and $1.6bn for producing tests, the EU said.
In her opening remarks at the summit, Ms. Ursula von der Leyen said everyone must chip in to finance “a truly global endeavor.” “I believe 4 May will mark a turning point in our fight against coronavirus because now the world is becoming together,” she stated. “The allies are many, the goal is one: to beat this virus.”
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, another co-host of the convention, told the “more we pull collectively” in sharing expertise, “the quicker our scientists will succeed” in producing a vaccine. Mr. Johnson, who spent three nights in comprehensive care with Covid-19, was to validate the UK’s pledge of £388m for vaccine research, testing, and treatment during the convention.
WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus congratulated the fundraiser in a virtual briefing in Geneva. He expressed his gratitude via Twitter to every country that donated. “This was a compelling and inspiring presentation of global solidarity,” the WHO chief stated. “This virus will be among us for a long time, and we must get together to develop and share the tools to conquer it,” he continued.
The UN says a return to a healthy life will only be possible with a vaccine. Dozens of research projects trying to find a vaccine is currently underway across the world. Even with more financial responsibility, it will take time to know which ones might work and how well. Most specialists think it could take until mid-2021, around 12-18 months after the new virus first appeared, for a vaccine to become ready.