World leaders, organizations, and banks pledged $ 7.4 billion ($ 8 billion) Monday for research to find a vaccine against the new coronavirus on Monday, but warned that this is only the beginning of an effort that has developed over time must be maintained to combat the disease.
Funds pledged at a Summit on videoconferences organized by the European Union fell marginally below the requested EUR 7.5 billion, but more money could emerge in the coming days. Notably absent were the United States, where more than 67,000 people died, and Russia.
Despite the deficit, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said that the goal sought Monday to help find a vaccine, new treatments and better tests for the disease would only be a “down payment” for the tools needed to fight the virus.
“To reach everyone everywhere, we probably need five times as much,” said Guterres.
Governments have reported about 3.5 million infections and more than 247,000 deaths from the virus, according to a Johns Hopkins University census. But deliberately hidden outbreaks, low testing rates, and the pressures on health systems mean the pandemic’s true magnitude is far greater.
People in many countries around the world, especially in Europe this week, are cautiously returning to work, but authorities remain wary of a second wave of infections and a vaccine is the only real gold bullet to something like a resume normal life.
“In just a few hours, we jointly pledged EUR 7.4 billion for vaccines, diagnostics and treatments,” said Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, after three hours. “All this money will help spark unprecedented global collaboration.”
The original goal was to collect about $ 4 billion ($ 4.37 billion) for vaccine research, about $ 2 billion for treatments, and $ 1.5 billion ($ 1.64 billion) for testing.
Commitments were difficult to follow except in different currencies. Some countries announced funding for their own national research efforts combined with the efforts they would offer to international organizations. Others also suggested a combination of loans with their financing. Commitments made towards vaccine research since January 30 were also included.
In addition to many European leaders, the heads of state and government from Australia, Canada, Israel, Japan, Jordan, South Africa and Turkey spoke at the event, together with the Chinese EU ambassador.
President Emmanuel Macron warned that “a race against time is underway” because he donated 500 million euros on behalf of France.
In addition to many European leaders, heads of state and government from Australia, Canada, Israel, Japan, Jordan, South Africa and Turkey would also speak, along with the Chinese EU ambassador.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said that “the race to discover the vaccine to defeat this virus is not competition between countries, but the most urgent concerted effort of our lives.”
Of the larger contributions, Japan has pledged more than $ 800 million, while Germany has offered $ 525 million. Italy and Spain, arguably the hardest hit by the virus in Europe, each said they would raise more than 100 million euros. Switzerland, the Netherlands and Israel have also pledged 378 million euros, 192 million euros and 60 million dollars respectively.
Melinda Gates, co-chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, said fighting the virus will “ take more than making a vaccine available to the top bidder. It takes more than just supplying it to people in affluent countries. The pandemic does not end until people can be vaccinated against everything. “
About 100 research groups are tracking vaccines, with nearly a dozen in the early stages of human trials or ready to start. But so far, there is no way to predict which vaccine, if any, will work safely, or even name a precursor.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the top expert on the U.S. government, has warned that even if everything went perfectly, developing a vaccine would set a record for speed in 12 to 18 months.
Even if an initial useful vaccine is identified, initially there will not be enough for everyone. A growing number of vaccine manufacturers say they are already brewing tons of doses – wasting millions of dollars if they bet on the wrong candidate, but shaving off a few months of massive vaccinations if their choice comes true.
When asked about the absence of the US following the suspension of funding to the World Health Organization, a senior official said that “the United States is providing $ 2.4 billion in global health, humanitarian and economic aid to Covid -19 response and we continue to ensure that significant US funding and scientific efforts in this area remain an essential and coordinated part of this global effort against Covid-19. “
The officer was not authorized to discuss the matter by name and spoke on condition of anonymity.
French President Emmanuel Macron said he is confident that the US will join the initiative at some point and emphasized that he has personally discussed the matter with President Donald Trump. Macron noted that the US is “on the sidelines,” but added that it does not endanger or delay the project.
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