On Monday, 4 May 2020, The European Union convened a virtual pledging marathon, the Coronoavirus Global Response Initiative, in concert with Canada, France, Germany, Italy (incoming G20 presidency), Japan, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (current holder of the G20 presidency), Norway, Spain and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. This pledging marathon featured over 50 speakers; the program for the event can be found here.
In her opening statement, President Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, noted,
The pandemic is affecting every single country in the world. It has brought heartache and heartbreak, pain and suffering to millions of people. It has put enormous strain on healthcare and welfare systems across the globe. It has shut down public life in many parts of the world – keeping us away from our families, friends and the things we love. It has badly hit our economy, putting jobs, livelihoods and businesses at risk.
But it has also brought the best out of humanity. Our modern day heroes are now our healthcare workers. Small acts of solidarity, love and kindness are spreading around the world. And this virus has reminded us that we have to protect each other if we want to protect ourselves.
The reality is that we will have to learn to live with the virus – until and unless we develop a vaccine.
This is why we have to join forces and pool our money and our minds to kick-start work on vaccines, diagnostics and treatments against coronavirus. We need to develop, produce and deploy them to every single corner of the world. And we must ensure that they are available and affordable for all.
This is why we must all chip in to finance this truly global endeavour. So our first objective is to raise an initial sum of EUR 7.5 billion, or USD 8 billion. This is the funding that is needed right now to ramp up work on vaccines, diagnostics and treatments.
But more will be needed. So, today is only the start of a global pledging marathon.
The second objective is to bring under the same roof all global health organisations working on initiatives to fight the pandemic. Together, we offer to the world a framework for global cooperation on vaccines, diagnostics and therapeutics.
In addition to the World Health Organization (WHO), the following global health agencies intervened in the pledging marathon: Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, Foundation for Innovative New Diagnostics, and Unitaid.
Marisol Touraine, Executive Board Chair, Unitaid, reminded world leaders of the exigent need to “ensure equitable access to these new tools and make sure all those who need them, can access them.” She called on the global community to “learn from the positive experience of the Medicines Patent Pool in making HIV treatments available to most of those who need them and support the implementation of a global voluntary pooling mechanism for Covid-19 related technologies, as proposed by WHO and the President of Costa Rica.”
In terms of ensuring access to diagnostics and therapeutics, Touraine stressed that
“Unitaid is the official co-convener of the therapeutics partnership and an active partner of diagnostics and health systems strengthening pillars. Resources to Unitaid will serve to ensure that medicines and diagnostics are adapted to everyone, everywhere, in both the North and South. We will focus on unblocking market barriers to these products.”