World leaders, organisations and banks have reportedly pledged 7.4 billion euros for research to find a vaccine against COVID-19 at a video-conference summit hosted by the European Union yesterday.
Warning that it is just the beginning of what will need to be a sustained effort to beat the virus, several European leaders, as well as heads of state and government from Australia, Canada, Israel, Japan, Jordan, South Africa and Turkey spoke at the event, along with China’s EU ambassador. The United States and Russia were notably absent.
The aim of the summit was initially to gather around 4 billion euros for vaccine research, some 2 billion euros for treatments and 1.5 billion for testing, although U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said that the target being sought would only ever amount to a “down-payment” on the tools that will be needed to fight the virus long term.
“In the space of just a few hours we have collectively pledged 7.4 billion euros for vaccines, diagnostics and treatments,” European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said after the event yesterday. “All this money will help kick-start unprecedented global cooperation.”
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said that “the race to discover the vaccine to defeat this virus is not a competition between countries, but the most urgent shared endeavour of our lifetimes."
This comes against a backdrop of many people across the globe cautiously returning to work this week, while authorities remain vigilant of a potential second wave of infections, with many agreeing that a vaccine is the only real way normal life can resume.
It has been reported that around 100 research groups are currently in pursuit of a coronavirus vaccine, with some reaching the early stages of human trials. Despite this, it remains impossible to predict when – and if – a safe vaccine will be discovered.