World leaders pledged €7.4 billion ($8.07 billion) in a digital fundraiser held to raise money for developing a coronavirus vaccine and treatments, almost reaching the €7.5 billion goal.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said “this will help kick-start unprecedented global cooperation,” but that “much more” would be needed in the coming months.
“Today’s sprint was a great start for our marathon,” she said following the three-hour pledging session.
The Commission kicked off the digital event by promising €1 billion, followed by French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel promising €500 million and €525 million from their respective countries.
Non-EU member and event co-chair Norway said the Scandinavian country will provide $1 billion towards the initiative, with the contribution earmarked to go to the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunizations (GAVI). Norway has financed GAVI, which focuses on global immunization projects, since its inception in 2000.
Prime Minister of Spain Pedro Sanchez said his country will contribute €125 million, with €50 million going to the Global Vaccine Alliance and €75 million to the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations. COVID-19 has killed over 25,000 people in Spain, making it one of the hardest hit countries in Europe.
The event, hosted by European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen aims to pool resources from across the globe from governments and philanthropists in order to develop a vaccine and treatments and to make sure that such treatments are universally available at affordable prices.
President von der Leyen called the commission’s contribution a “team effort,” implying that it includes contributions from EU member states. European Council President Charles Michel said, “The scope of our response must match the scope of the crisis. These are dark days, but they are also days that reveal our humanity.”
The event is being co-chaired by countries including Germany, France, Britain, Italy, Japan and Saudi Arabia, which currently holds the G20 chair. China — the country where the coronavirus outbreak initiated — will only be represented by its ambassador to the EU. Other world leaders The US has declined to participate in any official capacity