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Explainer: The Coronavirus Global Response

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What is the Joint Call for Action?

The coronavirus pandemic affects practically every country in the world. Past experiences have shown that even with the availability of effective tools at the world’s disposal, some are protected, while others are not. This inequity is unacceptable – all tools to address the pandemic must be available to all.

With this in mind, the World Health Organization (WHO) and an initial group of global health actors have launched a landmark, global collaboration for the accelerated development, production and equitable global access to new COVID-19 essential health technologies. The partner organisations include: the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF), the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisations (GAVI), the Global Fund, UNITAID, the Wellcome Trust and the World Bank.

What is the Coronavirus Global Response?

To respond to the joint call for action from health actors, the EU is joining forces with France, Germany, the United Kingdom, Norway and Saudi Arabia to host a pledging event.

Researchers and innovators around the world are working very hard to find solutions to save lives and protect our health. But they need more funding. World-leading scientists and health experts say €7.5 billion ($8 billion) is now needed to develop solutions to test, treat and protect people, and to prevent the disease from spreading.

With the Coronavirus Global Response, the EU and its partners are taking the lead in the global effort to close this funding gap.

The initiative has two main aims:

  • To rally support for global efforts and attract sizeable financial contributions from the public, private and philanthropic sectors, to bridge the funding gap estimated at €7.5 billion for the development and deployment of diagnostics, treatments and vaccines;
  • To secure a high-level political commitment to ensuring equitable access to therapeutics and vaccines, leaving no-one behind.

How was the €7.5 billion fundraising target set?  

The €7.5 billion ($8 billion) figure is based on an assessment, done in March 2020, by the Global Preparedness Monitoring Board (GPMB), an independent monitoring and accountability body to ensure preparedness for global health crises. 

GPMB identified a shortfall of funding for major needs to fight this pandemic in key areas:

  • $1.25bn for the World Health Organization (WHO) to support the most vulnerable countries;
  • $3bn for research and development (R&D) of vaccines for COVID-19 ($2bn), plus seed funding for manufacturing and deployment ($1bn);
  • $2.25bn for R&D on therapeutics for COVID-19, plus seed funding for manufacturing and deployment;
  • $0.75bn for R&D on diagnostics for COVID-19, plus seed funding for manufacturing and deployment, and
  • $0.75bn to stockpile essential Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and vaccines.

GPMG has indicated that the full scale up of manufacturing and delivery will cost well above the current target, which is covers only the most urgently needed initial amounts.

Where are the main needs in the areas of vaccines, therapeutics and diagnostics?

In these three areas, underfinancing exists mainly on manufacturing, procurement and deployment rather than research and development, even if this is the most urgent area to cover. The current situation in the three selected areas is as follows:

Vaccines are difficult to develop and the outcome of research is uncertain. Currently, there are more than 70 vaccines in development, and at least 3 have entered into clinical trials. Once a vaccine is available, the challenge will be to produce it in the extremely high quantities needed and required, as well as to ensure that it is available and accessible for all countries, including low and medium-income countries.

Therapeutics: So far more than 40 developers of potential treatments for COVID19 have contacted the European Medicines Agency (EMA) and the Member States for scientific advice. Most of the treatments proposed are medicines currently authorised for other diseases. Clinical trials are currently ongoing to determine their efficacy for the treatment of COVID-19 patients. Once new therapies are identified, the challenge will be their production and manufacturing capacity and the need for large-scale procurement. Procurement at a global level will be costly and funding is therefore needed.

Diagnostics (Tests): At the moment, several types of tests, for different purposes, are in use. Some are used to detect the active disease and others to detect if the person passed on the disease. The latter still have be validated in terms of performance and produced on a large scale. The challenge is procurement and deployment, including equipment to analyse the results when applicable, as well as the link with effective and well-resourced testing strategies.

All new vaccines, diagnostics and treatments developed for COVID-19 will need to be made available globally for an affordable price, regardless of where they were developed or how they were funded. That is the reason why funds from this pledging initiative will go to organisations that are coordinating the global response to this crisis.

What is the GPMB?

Launched in 2018, the Global Preparedness Monitoring Board (GPMB) is an accountability and advisory body composed by 15 members to better respond to global health emergencies. It was created following the recommendations formulated by the UN Secretary General’s Global Health Crises Task Force in 2017.

The goals of the Board are to 1) assess the world’s ability to protect itself from health emergencies, 2) identify critical gaps to preparedness across multiple perspectives and 3) advocate for preparedness activities with national and international leaders and decision-makers and mobilise its influence with other leaders and policy makers at global, national and community levels.

The EU as such is not represented in the Board.

Who is in charge of the funds raised?

The European Union will coordinate the collection of the funds, which will be directed towards the needs identified by the GPMB in three strands: diagnostics, treatments and vaccines.

What is the breakdown of funds allocated to the three strands of work?

The 4 May will mark the beginning of the rolling out of the initiative aimed at developing three strands of work: diagnostics, treatments and vaccines. The breakdown of the funds will be further refined based on the initial indication of the needs identified by GPMB.

Pledges may be general or they may be earmarked for a specific strand.

Who will be developing the diagnostics, treatments and vaccines?

As of 20 April, the WHO had already identified 76 vaccine candidates supported by public, private and public-private consortia. There are many researchers and developers worldwide currently working on innovative solutions, including vaccines, treatments and diagnostics. The pressing needs and the special nature of research and development requires strong global collaboration.

Who will have ownership of the products produced with funding from the initiative?

Funding will benefit organisations that strive to ensure that the products will be available, accessible and affordable across the world, especially in the most vulnerable countries. Pledges will notably target CEPI and GAVI.

Funding pledged will also be accompanied by high-level commitments from donors in support of global access and fair deployment of new diagnostics, treatment and vaccines against COVID-19.

Who can donate? 

All countries, international organisations or financial institutions may contribute, but also the private sector, or foundations.

Why can’t private individuals make a donation?

The EU is not legally able to ask for citizens’ donations. Nonetheless, we are calling on individuals to d show their support by interacting on-line, spreading awareness about the initiative and encouraging the private sector to pitch in. In addition, individuals may make contributions to partner funds, such as the WHO COVID-19 solidarity response fund: https://covid19responsefund.org.

Until when can donations be made? 

Donations can be made as of 4 May 2020. On that day, the Commission will also announce the next milestones of a global campaign, which is to kick off an ongoing rolling replenishment.

What will you do if you exceed the fundraising target?

We aim is to reach €7.5 billion as we believe it is a realistic target for the current needs. More funding will be needed to sustain the actions in the coming months, which could benefit from donations beyond the targets. 

What is the estimated timeline for delivery on the three strands?

Given the current crisis, there is no time to lose. Funds will be allocated as quickly as possible. While a number of solutions are already being investigated, R&D, manufacturing and deployment are all time-consuming, resource-intensive steps. This is why it is crucial to coordinate efforts at international level, to identify as quickly as possible the most promising approaches while accelerating their development.

What are the links with the funds already raised for the WHO?

The WHO is currently helping to coordinate the worldwide response to COVID-19, which it declared to be public health emergency of international concern (PHEIC) on January 30, and a global pandemic on March 11, 2020. The WHO Strategic Preparedness and Response Plan outlines the public health measures that the international community stands ready to provide to support all countries to prepare for and respond to COVID-19.

The funds raised by the Coronavirus Global Response would be complementary to the WHO’s work and their appeal. The first iteration of the WHO Strategic Preparedness and Response Plan (SPRP) called for a total resource requirement of $675 million, of which $61.5 million were for WHO’s urgent preparedness and response activities for the period of February to April 2020. An updated plan will be launched in April and will identify significantly larger resource needs for country response, research and development and WHO itself.

The EU’s partnership with the WHO to respond to the COVID-19 is not new and will be reinforced via our current initiative. For example, the EU is already working with the WHO to supply medical devices and personal equipment such as ventilators, laboratory kits, masks, goggles, gowns, and safety suits.

Which countries were invited to take part in the initiative?

All countries, international organisations and foundations who have shown interest in fighting the COVID-19 have been invited to participate.

Will the fruits of the initiative only benefit countries that participate?

No, the objective of this pledging event is to speed up innovations and ensure access for all, irrespective of the geographical origin of funds. Pandemics can only be effectively controlled when solutions are deployed globally. The initiative aims to rally significant financial contributions to develop diagnostics, treatments and vaccines and secure a high-level political commitment to ensure equitable access to diagnostics, treatments and vaccines to make sure no-one is left behind.

How does this pledging event compare to and complement other international initiatives?

This is an integral part of the multilateral response to the COVID-19 emergency and is aligned with the logic of on-going UN appeals. It stems directly from G20 Leaders’ commitment, and the G20 Action Plan to provide immediate resources to key entities in the global health response.

The conference will focus on the quest for solutions that currently do not exist, first through R&D, then deployment (access to new solutions), whereas the UN system is primarily tackling other needs such as humanitarian assistance, mitigation of the socio-economic impacts and preparedness of health systems for future outbreaks.

Finance

The various ways you can buy gold

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Gold is usually valued as a commodity, currency, and investment for many years. This is why it’s still popular nowadays among investors because you can use gold as a hedge against inflation, currency devaluation, or deflation.

And, because of its ability to give you financial protection during times of economic uncertainty, it can be a good idea to invest in physical gold. Keep in mind that the gold market can be quite liquid and there are various ways in which you can gain exposure to gold including gold bars and coins. This page discusses the various ways you can buy gold.

Physical gold

Physical gold can offer you a direct exposure to gold. When gold is in bulk form, it’s called a bullion, and it can be minted into gold coins or cast into bars. The value of a gold bullion is usually based on its purity and mass rather than the monetary face value. Remember that if gold coins are issued with the monetary face value, the market value still depends on its fine gold content.

You can purchase physical gold from private mints, government mints, jewelers, and precious metal dealers. Because different gold sellers can give the same gold at different prices, it’s crucial for you to do research so that you can find the ideal deal. When you buy physical gold, you need to pay the full price.

Physical gold ownership can involve several costs like the insurance costs, storage costs, transaction fees, and markups related to purchasing and selling the commodity. Also, there can sometimes come with the processing fees as well as a small lot fees, especially if you are making small purchases. Collectively these costs cannot be that significant to affect you when you decide to invest a small portion of your portfolio in gold, but they can also be overwhelming if you want to have a large exposure. Check https://goldtrends.net/gold-ira-companies/ before you invest in gold.

Gold EFTs

EFTs are not like physical gold because you can buy them like shares on any stock exchange. The good thing about EFTs is that it allows you to get access to gold and you can avoid some costs like storage costs, markups, and many more. However, you should expect that you can lose a certain percentage of your investment’s value to the expense ratio of the fund. An expense ratio refers to the recurring annual fee that is charged to the funds to pay for administrative costs and management expenses. As a result, it’s always a good idea to weigh your options when it comes to choosing gold EFTs or having a gold IRA.

It’s also important to note that you need to pay a commission when you decide to purchase and sell an EFT. Many online commissions are usually affordable, but they can always add up if you happen to be an active trader. Besides, most brokers usually charge a high commission, especially for broker-assisted trades, special order types, and automated phone orders. To address the cost concerns that come with EFTs, some brokers are now giving commission-free online trading for some type of EFTs.

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Finance

How to ensure your Canadian public documents will be recognized in the EU?

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If you are moving to the EU for work or educational purposes, or you want to live there for a long time and you plan on using your Canadian public documents in different countries throughout the European Union, you must first go through a process so these documents are recognized in the EU. In Canada, this process is called Document Authentication and Legalization, however, others call it Attestation. Before going abroad, you might consider asking a professional company that handles document authentication Canada to help you out with the requirements needed, especially if time isn’t on your side.

Although you can organize the legalization of your documents yourself, if this is your first time authorizing these documents, it might take up a lot of your time and energy. Reputable agents can help speed up the process, so you can get on with the rest of your tasks before your travel to the EU.

What Business Documents do you need to Have Legalized Before entering the EU?

If you want to get your documents authenticated in Canada, you have to get the Department of Foreign Trade and International Affairs to stamp each document. If you are traveling to the EU for business, you might need to get the following documents authenticated:

  • Certificate of export
  • Shipping Document
  • Corporate documents that can be used while in the EU
  • Commercial invoice
  • Certificate of free sale
  • Pharmaceutical certificate
  • Distributorship Agreements

If you travel to the EU without these documents in order, you might find it difficult to carry out the work you had planned. Expect the European Union authorities to inspect these documents thoroughly. If you decide to go it alone instead of hiring an agent to help you out, make sure that you have plenty of time because a lot of these documents can take a long time to get legalized.

Personal Documentation

Although you won’t need these documents if you want to travel to the EU, if you plan on staying there for an extended period, you might need them at some stage. For these files to be recognized throughout the EU, you will need them authenticated. Here are a few examples of the documents you will want to get authorized before you hop on the plane:

If you arrive in the EU without this documentation authenticated, trying to get them recognized in the EU won’t be easy. To make sure your time in the EU goes smoothly, you should make sure that everything is finalized in Canada first.

Travelling to the EU during the Pandemic

Since the outbreak of Covid-19, a lot of areas around Europe have enforced quarantines on those entering from Canada. Each country has its own rules, so before you jet off, find out what the current situation is like. These Covid-19 regulations normally depend on the current situation in Canada, and most embassies will post details on their official website. If you can’t see them on their website, consider making direct contact with the embassy’s officials. Keep in mind that these rules are subject to change, so you should find out the details before you travel.

If you are fully vaccinated, you should have no problems getting into most countries throughout the EU. However, the EU doesn’t recognize every vaccine, even some that are approved by the WHO.

Most of the European countries are accepting fully vaccinated Canadians, but they will ask to see your proof of vaccination. Make sure you bring your travel health certificates with you, as they will show the dates when you received your first and last vaccination. If you haven’t received your vaccinations, then you might be allowed to enter without going into quarantine if you have already had the virus, as long as you have your PCR test completed.

What is the Visa situation for Canadian’s wanting to go to Europe?

At the moment, as long as you have your Covid-19 documents prepared and a valid Canadian passport with at least three blank pages, Canadians should have no issues entering the EU. However, this is going to change in the near future. From the beginning of 2023, Canadians who wish to go on a vacation or plan on working in the EU will have to apply for a travel pass. If you want to enter all the countries in the Schengen Area, you will need to apply for this travel pass online first. This pass is known as the European Travel Information and Authorization System (ETIAS). This electronic scheme was made so the EU can keep track of those travelling around the EU. Canada already has a similar system in place known as the Canadian Electronic Travel Authorization.

You must apply for this before your travel to the EU, but until then, you can still enter with a valid passport. A lot of folks misunderstood the new process and thought it was going to start in early 2021, but the EU released a press release to explain that the changes will be enforced in 2023. However, this isn’t a visa that grants people access to the EU.

What is the Legalization of a Document?

Authentication or legalization of a document that is issued in Canada is a process that will verify, prove, and confirm the genuineness of the position of an official. Each document needs to be stamped by authorized people to allow for it to be recognized throughout the EU.

A lot of the time, the process is theoretically easy. You must submit the documents to get Global Affairs Canada. Every single document must get an official stamp if they are to be recognized. Once they are all stamped, you might have to submit them to the country’s embassy in Canada on where you are planning on going to in the EU so they can be legalized.

Conclusion

Although the process sounds easy, if you are an individual company wanting to do business in the EU, the process can cause a lot of stress. Trying to source the correct documentation and other paperwork might prove to be a lot more challenging than you initially thought. If you have invested heavily, and you are desperate to get to the EU as soon as possible, the process might take a lot longer if you plan on doing it all yourself.

There are plenty of agents out there that can help you through the entire process. They will review your documents before you hand them over to Global Affairs and the embassy, and they will be able to give you expert advice on the process. Experienced agents will understand the current requirements that the Global Affairs officials are looking for. Without having these documents organized before your trip who will struggle to do business in the EU. If you do business without having the paperwork on hand, you could find yourself in trouble with authorities in the EU, which will reflect badly on your business the next time you plan on working inside the European Union.

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Energy News

IRENA and the ESA Agree to Advance Energy Transition in Space Activities

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The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) and the European Space Agency (ESA) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) today to advance the global energy transition through space-based services and products. The new partnership was signed by the two Director-Generals Francesco La Camera and Josef Aschbacher in pursuit of the common goal to ensure sustainable long-term socio-economic development within planetary boundaries.

Data and images from satellites can play a significant role to help countries better assess the geographical potential of renewables, identify the best locations for projects, forecast weather patterns and support long-term planning of new renewable generation capacity and infrastructure.

Francesco la Camera, IRENA’s Director-General said: “Today’s partnership opens a new avenue of cooperation to advance the international cooperation on energy transition globally. While an energy system underpinned by renewables is key to decarbonising our world in line with climate goals, renewables bring socioeconomic benefits with economic opportunity and social equity at its heart. By combining IRENA’s knowledge on energy transition with ESA’s space research and technology, we can accelerate the low-carbon energy transition and promote sustainable growth.”

Under the agreement, IRENA and ESA will make use of space assets and data to improve renewable generation site location, access to energy, electrification modelling, renewable resource mapping and smart grid planning. Urban energy system planning with focus on local renewables may also benefit from satellite data while enhancing system resilience.

Making use of digital technologies including 5G and combining for example satellite imagery with artificial intelligence and big data provide a unique opportunity to enable a wider space economy and support energy transitions across the world.

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