European leaders have committed more than $8 billion (£6.5 billion) in a bid to help develop a sorely-needed COVID-19 vaccine and fund research into the diagnosis and treatment of the coronavirus outbreak, according to a release on the EU Commission website.
World leaders pledge billions toward COVID-19 vaccine
Forty countries and donors participated in an online summit hosted by the European Union. Ursula von der Leyen, president of the EU Commission said the funds will help kickstart a new unprecedented level of global collaboration to defeat the COVID-19 disease, reports BBC News.
She added that the move showed the true value of humanity and unity, but also warned of the great needs required in the days ahead.
In all, more than 30 countries — including the UN and various research institutes and philanthropic organizations made donations.
Von der Leyen — who launched the Brussels-led initiative on Friday — also said one of the donors was pop singer Madonna, who donated $1.1 million (£1 million).
UPDATE May 4, 3:30 PM EDT: Breakdown of EU Commission pledge for coronavirus vaccine
The European Commission committed $1 billion in a bid to fund research for developing a vaccine. Norway matched this contribution, with France giving roughly $545 million (€500 million), as have Germany and Saudi Arabia. Japan committed more than $800 million.
Russia and the United States did not participate. China — the December origin and initial epicenter of the virus, was represented by an ambassador to the EU.
During opening remarks at the summit, Ms. von der Leyen said everyone must contribute to finance "a truly global endeavor," reports the BBC.
"I believe May 4 will mark a turning point in our fight against coronavirus because today the world is coming together," she said.
"The partners are many, the goal is one: to defeat this virus."
Boris Johnson — UK Prime Minister who also co-hosted the conference — said the "more we pull together" in pooling expertise, "the faster our scientists will succeed" in finalizing a viable vaccine.
Prime Minister Johnson, who saw three nights in intensive care after contracting the coronavirus that causes the COVID-19 illness, was present to confirm the UK's commitment of £388 million toward vaccine research, treatment, and testing throughout the conference.
Side by side with the EU Commission, the conference was also co-hosted by Canada, Germany, Norway, the UK, France, Italy, and Saudi Arabia.
Giuseppe Conte — the Italian Prime Minister — along with German Chancellor Angela Merkel were also signatories on the initiative.
UPDATE May 4, 3:50 PM EDT: Vaccine needed for whole world, estimates for vaccine availability range from 9 to 18 months
Published in weekend newspapers, the open letter featured world leaders saying that the new funds raised would "kickstart an unprecedented global co-operation between scientists and regulators, industry and governments, international organizations, foundations and healthcare professionals."
"If we can develop a vaccine that is produced by the world, for the whole world, this will be a unique global public good of the 21st century," they said, reports the BBC.
Meanwhile, signatories also gave support to the World Health Organization amid U.S. criticism of the organization's conduct in handling the global outbreak.
The UN has said the return to "normal life" will only be possible once a viable vaccine is developed. Dozens of research projects to discover or develop a vaccine are underway around the world.
Despite increased financial commitment, it will take time and patience to know which vaccine candidates will work, in addition to their effectivity.
Most experts think we may not see a vaccine until mid-2021, roughly 12-18 months after the first cases of the coronavirus were known to the world. Bill Gates, however, has said that nine months is our best-case scenario toward developing a viable vaccine.
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