EU launches new COVID-19 fundraising to address concerns over equal access

A vaccine researcher at work in the laboratory of the Amsterdam UMC, in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, 28 May 2020. [Koen Van Veel/EPA/EFE]

The European Commission launched a new global fundraising campaign on Thursday (28 May) to finance the development and worldwide distribution of testing, vaccines and treatments against COVID-19, seeking to address concerns they may not be equally shared.

The new initiative, named “Global Goal: Unite For Our Future”, is meant to raise tens of billions of dollars with private and public donations.

It follows another EU-led global campaign for the same goal which in less than a month has raised nearly $11 billion, more than half of it from EU nations and institutions.

Vaccine telethon raises billions as Europe eases virus lockdown

Hopes rose in the fight against the coronavirus on Monday (4 May) as world leaders pledged billions of euros for a vaccine in a special telethon and European countries edged out of lockdown.

The EU is increasingly taking a role as a champion of global cooperation while the United States and China, which have the world’s largest economies, favour national initiatives.

Of the nearly $11 billion donated so far by governments, only $50 million came from China, while the US shunned the initiative altogether, EU officials said.

“No one is safe until we are all safe,” EU Commission president Ursula von der Leyen said, launching the new initiative, which will end with a pledging summit on 27 June.

The new campaign, co-led by international advocacy organisation Global Citizen, illustrates the deep need for funds to develop and make vaccines and treatments available for everyone. COVID-19 has so far killed some 355,000 people worldwide, according to a Reuters tally.

Of the 10 candidate vaccines that the World Health Organisation (WHO) lists as being in advanced evaluation phase, five are being developed in China, three in the United States and one in Britain. For the remaining one, German biotech company BioNTech is cooperating with US giant Pfizer and China’s Fosun Pharma.

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