World leaders pledge $ 8 billion to fight Covid-19, but America remains clear

BRUSSELS: World leaders and organizations pledged $ 8 billion on Monday to research, manufacture and distribute a possible vaccine and treatments for Covid-19, but the United States refused to contribute to the global effort.

Organizers included the European Union and non-EU countries, Great Britain, Norway, and Saudi Arabia. Leaders from Japan, Canada, South Africa and dozens of other countries joined the virtual event, while China, where the virus is believed to have originated, was only represented by its ambassador to the European Union.

Governments aim to continue raising funds for several weeks or months, building on the efforts of the world Bank , the Bill, and the wealthy, and turn the page to the wild and random initial response around the world.

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In just a few hours, we have collectively pledged € 7.4 billion ($ 8.1 billion) for Covid-19 vaccines, diagnostics and treatments, European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen said after chairing the online event. .

This will help boost unprecedented global cooperation, he added.

However, it was unclear what the new financing was, as commitments made earlier this year may also be included, EU officials said.

Donors included pop singer Madonna, who promised € 1 million, von der Leyen said.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who recovered from a deadly battle with Covid-19, said finding the vaccine was the most urgent shared effort of our lives, and called for an impregnable shield for all of our people.

EU diplomats said the United States, which has the world's most confirmed Covid-19 cases, was not participating.

A senior US administration official declined to say specifically why the United States was not participating.

We support this EU engagement effort. It is one of the many engagement efforts underway and the United States is at the forefront, the official told reporters by phone.

President Donald trump He said last month that he would suspend funding for the World Health Organization, whose director general addressed the conference, for managing the pandemic.

Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg said she regretted that decision, as well as Washington's absence on Monday.

It is a pity that the United States is not part of it. When you're in a crisis, you manage it and you do it jointly with others, Solberg told Reuters in an interview, pledging $ 1 billion to support the distribution of any vaccine. developed against Covid-19 and for vaccines against other diseases.

"We’ve had several discussions with our American partners and I’m convinced the Americans will eventually commit to this dynamic because it’s the way forward for the world," French President said.

GLOBAL REACH

Many leaders emphasized that any vaccine must be available to everyone. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said it should not be just for rich countries.

Those who invent it will, of course, receive a fair payment, but the organization we choose will give access to people from all over the world, Macron said.

EU officials said the pharmaceutical companies receiving the funds will not be asked to give up intellectual property rights on the new vaccines and treatments, but must commit to making them available worldwide at affordable prices.

The $ 8 billion goal was in line with expectations, but it's only an initial figure. Von der Leyen has said that more money will be needed over time.

The Global Readiness Monitoring Board, a UN-backed body that focuses on health crises, estimates that of the $ 8 billion that is needed immediately, $ 3 billion will have to be spent to develop, manufacture and distribute a possible Covid-19 vaccine, the EU Commission said.

Another $ 2.25 billion is needed to develop treatments for Covid-19, $ 750 million for test kits, and another $ 750 million to store protective equipment, such as face masks. The remaining $ 1.25 billion would go to the World Health Organization to support the most vulnerable countries.

Britain will hold an online donor summit on June 4 for GAVI, the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunizations.

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