A consortium of world leaders, banks and non-governmental organizations pledged Monday to raise at least $8 billion to fund research toward a COVID-19 vaccine – but the United States won’t be taking part.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said the funding for coronavirus vaccines, diagnostics and treatment will “help kick-start unprecedented global cooperation” in the ongoing fight against the global pandemic.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said the goal would actually only serve as a “down payment” of overall funds needed to successfully fight the virus that has caused more than 248,000 deaths across the globe as of Monday, according to Johns Hopkins University data.
“To reach everyone, everywhere, we likely need five times that amount,” Guterres said.
The funding fell short of an initial goal of 7.5 billion euros, but additional money may be forthcoming. Organizers had first sought to raise about $4.37 billion for vaccine research, $2.18 billion for treatments and about $1.64 billion for testing.
“I believe the fourth of May will mark a turning point in our fight against coronavirus because today the world is coming together,” von der Leyer said to kick off the fundraising effort, which she equated to a marathon, Reuters reports.
Organizers of the event included the European Union, as well as nations like Japan, Canada, Saudi Arabia and China, although China was solely represented by its European Union ambassador, Reuters reports.
No US officials were included on a list of conference speakers, and EU diplomats confirmed that the US was not participating despite having the highest number of citizens diagnosed with COVID-19 in the world, according to Reuters.
Russia is also not taking part.
A senior US administration official declined to say why the US wasn’t joining the effort, Reuters reports.
“We support this pledging effort by the EU,” the official told reporters. “It is one of many pledging efforts that are going on and the United States is at the forefront.”
Two senior US officials said during a conference call with reporters that the country’s participation was not needed because the United States remains the world’s largest donor to global health initiatives — even after President Trump said last month he planned to stop funding to the World Health Organization.
Leaders from Australia, Israel, Jordan, South Africa and France also spoke at the event. French President Emmanuel Macron said a “race against time” was underway as his country donated 500 million euros.
The decision by the US not to take part in the effort is unfortunate, Norway Prime Minister Erna Solberg told Reuters.
“It is a pity the US is not part of it,” said Solberg, whose nation pledged $1 billion. “When you are in a crisis, you manage it and you do it jointly with others.”
With Post wires