The European Union launched a global pledging marathon on May 4 in support of the Coronavirus Global Response, aimed at closing the €7.5 billion ($8 billion) funding gap needed to urgently develop a COVID -19 vaccine in an effort to mitigate the spread of the disease.
Leaders from across the EU and many others, including Saudi Arabia, Japan, the UK, and Australia, pledged a landmark total of €7.4 billion during the event, raising funds towards the Coronavirus Global Response to support the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI); GAVI, the Vaccine Alliance; and the World Health Organisation (WHO).
The funding aimed to ensure the collaborative development and universal deployment of diagnostics, treatments, and vaccines against the coronavirus.
“More will be needed — today is only the start of a global pledging marathon to bring under the same roof all global health organisations to fight the pandemic,” said Ursula von der Leyen, event host and president of the European Commission.
Fully agree that we can only defeat this virus by working together. We need funding for treatments and vaccines. This is why I decided to host an online pledging conference on 4 May. I hope that countries and organisations all over the world will contribute. #StrongerTogetherhttps://t.co/GBUFfGts02pic.twitter.com/10yQ57htaT— Ursula von der Leyen #UnitedAgainstCoronavirus (@vonderleyen) April 15, 2020
Funding a COVID-19 vaccine that is developed, manufactured, and delivered at a global scale within 12 to 18 months will take unprecedented bipartisan and multilateral cooperation and solidarity.
“The road will be long. Once the vaccine is discovered and the treatments approved, they will need to be produced massively and distributed to everyone,” said French President Emmanuel Macron. “This is why I call on everyone to contribute to the call for pledging that we’re launching.”.
Many global leaders stressed the importance of a vaccine that remains available and affordable for all, regardless of where and how it is developed.
WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus called on world leaders to work together, stressing the importance of global collaboration and access.
“The ultimate measure of success will not be how fast we can develop tools — it will be how equally we can distribute them,” Dr Tedros said.
Speaking early on at the conference, German Chancellor Angela Merkel called on world leaders to break new ground for the global production and distribution, announcing a pledge of €525 million supporting CEPI, the WHO, Gavi, and product development partnerships (PDPs).
“We are doing all this with a common goal — to make health possible for as many people as possible in the face of such a pandemic. Germany is committed to this goal,” said Merkel.
The country had already shown its support by pledging €55 million ($56 million) to the WHO, but as the pandemic intensified, the WHO put out an urgent appeal for a further USD $675 million — an amount desperately needed to combat the virus and protect lives.
Global Citizens responded, calling on Chancellor Merkel and German Health and Development Ministries to respond to COVID-19 by sending more than 4,780 individual tweets.
Partly due to the actions taken by Global Citizens, in recent weeks Germany has greatly increased funding towards COVID-19 response efforts.
During Monday’s event, Merkel committed to pledge an additional €110 million to the WHO COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund as part of Germany’s overall €525 million contribution.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, himself a COVID-19 survivor, announced Britain’s pledge of $482 million, reminding leaders that the UK will host another summit on June 4 on behalf of Gavi.
Global Citizen has been campaigning for world leaders to take positive action on containing the pandemic and ensuring that those living in — and on the edge of — poverty are not forgotten in the response to COVID-19.
So far, over half a million actions have been taken in support of the campaign, including a pledge calling for the most vulnerable to be protected and tweet actions calling on world leaders to step up — actions which were heard by world leaders on Monday.
In a historic commitment, Norway’s Prime Minister Erna Solberg pledged $1 billion towards the Coronavirus Global Response.
“To protect ourselves, we must in fact protect each other,” Solberg said.
The $1 billion will go to Gavi as direct funding for the period 2021-2030, of which Norway has been a major contributor since the organization's inception in 2000.
.@ErnaSolberg just announced Norway 🇳🇴 will help #DefeatDiseaseTogether! Thanks @NorwayMFA for pledging ✨$1 billion✨ to @gavi and $220M to @CEPIvaccines — helping protect millions against diseases during #COVID19 as part of the #GlobalResponse. #StrongerTogetherpic.twitter.com/Fnv0PDGaJ2— Global Citizen Impact (@GlblCtznImpact) May 4, 2020
The event attracted many pivotal million-dollar pledges and various commitments from Australia, Ireland, Austria, Denmark, Japan, Saudia Arabia, Canada, Jordan, South Africa, Italy, Kuwait, Spain, Turkey, Portugal, Estonia, Switzerland, Malta, Greece, Romania, Lithuania, the Czech Republic, Sweden, Slovenia, and Bulgaria.
The Netherlands also pledged €192 million to the Global Response, ensuring that protection will reach millions globally during the pandemic.
Recently, on April 24, the WHO, Gavi, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, among others, committed to the "shared aim of equitable global access to innovative tools for COVID-19 for all.”
Together with our global partners we managed to register €7.4 billion (equivalent to $8 billion) in pledges during the Coronavirus #GlobalResponse event.— European Commission 🇪🇺 #UnitedAgainstCoronavirus (@EU_Commission) May 4, 2020
We thank everyone for their support.
The pledging marathon will continue.
Read more here: https://t.co/zkr24JMs4tpic.twitter.com/N0d8HqJAGp
In a final statement, President von der Leyen thanked global leaders for participating.
“It would not have been possible without you, your leadership, and your compassion,” she said.
Von der Leyen also highlighted the importance of the need for global action and responsibility.
“The global response must also include civil society and the global community of citizens,” she said, smiling. “Joining forces with NGOs, we will work with Global Citizens and other partners. So stay tuned.”
To address this pandemic we must have all the tools possible available to treat and prevent the disease, and this is not possible if we do not fund the development and equitable distribution of a vaccine.