In an unprecedented global effort to fight the coronavirus, countries and organisations from across the world on 4 May raised EUR 7.4 billion for vaccines, diagnostics and treatments, almost reaching the initial target of EUR 7.5 billion. This sets a solid starting point for the worldwide pledging marathon that was launched simultaneously.
“At a time when we are sitting further apart than usual, the world has shown it is standing closer together than ever before”, said Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, who chaired the Global Response pledging event led by the European Union.
The event came as a response of the European Union, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Norway, Spain and the United Kingdom to a call for action from a group of global health actors. These actors appealed for global collaboration to accelerate development, production and equitable global access to new coronavirus essential health technologies.
“The reality is that we will have to learn to live with the virus – until and unless we develop a vaccine”, von der Leyen said, explaining that was one of the reasons we had to join forces and funds and start the work on vaccines, diagnostics and treatments. “We need to develop, produce and deploy them to every single corner of the world. And we must ensure that they are available and affordable for all”, she said.
To meet that goal, von der Leyen also announced significant EU pledge – EUR 1 billion in grants and EUR 400 million in guarantees on loans through reprioritisation of Horizon 2020, RescEU, the Emergency Support Instrument and external instruments.
The second aim of this global event was to bring under the same roof all global health organisations working on initiatives to fight the pandemic, and offer a framework for global cooperation on vaccines, diagnostics and therapeutics.
The funds raised would not only help kick-start global cooperation, but would also ‘create a truly unique, global public good’, von der Leyen said while thanking for all the contributions. “This is the true power of unity and humanity.”
Von der Leyen also spoke about the next milestones in this global response, which will include civil society and the global community of citizens. We needed everyone on board, she stressed, reminding there was a ‘steep climb ahead of us to defeat this virus worldwide’.