World leaders and NGOs press for vaccine cash at Paris Forum

French President Emmanuel Macron gestures as he speaks during The Paris Peace Forum at The Elysee Palace in Paris, France, 12 November 2020. [EPA-EFE/LUDOVIC MARIN]

European and world leaders on Thursday (12 November) said insisted that when COVID-19 vaccines are launched they should be made a available to everyone, under an international project which still needs $28 billion of funding.

“We aren’t going to beat the virus if we abandon part of humanity,” French President Emmanuel Macron told the Paris Peace Forum, which seeks concrete solutions to global issues.

The third edition of the forum is dedicated to finding ways to ease the pain caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The three-day international conference aims to raise more than $500 million towards ensuring fair access to coronavirus tests, treatment and vaccines for all, including poor countries.

It takes place as the number of cases is rising rapidly across Europe and beyond but with hopes rising for the roll-out of a coronavirus vaccine, perhaps even before the end of the year,

Top US government scientist Anthony Fauci said Thursday the coronavirus vaccine “cavalry” was on its way, bringing fresh hope as the world registered more than 10,000 deaths in just 24 hours, a record.

The world-leading expert on infectious diseases said that after this week’s much-trumpeted news that a vaccine developed by US drug giant Pfizer and Germany’s BioNTech was 90% effective, another is “literally on the threshold of being announced.”

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‘Financing gap’

During the online Paris forum, several countries are expected to announce funding for the so-called ACT-Accelerator, a mechanism led by the World Health Organization that aims to ensure access to tests, treatments and vaccines for all.

In September, the United Nations estimated that the ACT-Accelerator had only received around $3 billion of the $38 billion needed to meet the goal of producing and delivering two billion vaccine doses, 245 million treatments and 500 million diagnostic tests over the next year.

On Thursday World Heath Organization head Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that a ‘financing gap’ of $28.5 billion remains and that $4.5 billion is urgently required ‘to maintain momentum’.

“The international community must ensure that fair and equitable access to a vaccine is ensured for everyone,” Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said.

Chinese President Xi Jinping exhorted world leaders to “put human life above everything… and provide a targeted and concerted response” to the health crisis.

Senegalese President Macky Sall asked for assurances that enough doses of a virus vaccine would be produced and would reach the poorest countries “which have the most need”.

Senegal, a poor nation with a population of about 16 million people, has so far been spared a large coronavirus outbreak.

‘Biggest public health effort in history’

Day one of the meeting saw France offer €100 million, with another €50 million pledged by Spain and €100 million from the European Commission.

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation pledged $70 million, bringing its total donations to $226 million for the vaccine project.

“We are talking about the largest public health effort in the history of the world and it won’t be unexpensive,” said Melinda Gates.

The British government is also set to declare a contribution of one additional pound for each four dollars announced.

Paris Forum members also promised the creation of a high-level expert panel which would curate all available science concerning the interactions between humans, animals and changes in the environment.

“The pandemic showed us how much correlation there is between the health of humans, that of animals, and that of the planet,” German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas told the forum.

At the finance part of the Peace forum, a group of development banks pledged to re-focus their investments to take account of climate and development targets set by the UN and the Paris accord of 2015.

Public development banks invest $2.3 trillion every year, 10% of the world’s total investments.

The banks also promised to promote projects that reduce inequalities, protect the environment and pursue “sustainable development” goals, without offering examples.

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As a source of funding for many large …

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