By Foo Yun Chee
BRUSSELS (Reuters) – A global fundraising meeting on Saturday raised 6.15 billion euros ($6.9 billion) from the United States, the European Commission and numerous countries to fight COVID-19, with many participants stressing that an eventual vaccine should be available to anyone who needs it.
The pledging summit, part of a joint initiative by the EU executive and advocacy group Global Citizen, also included a globally televised and streamed fundraising concert featuring Miley Cyrus, Justin Bieber, Shakira, Chloe X Halle, Usher and others.
The Commission together with the European Investment Bank pledged 4.9 billion euros ($5.50 billion), the United States $545 million, Germany 383 million euros, Canada C$300 million ($219 million)and Qatar $10 million. Forty governments took part in the summit.
The money will be used for COVID-19 tests, treatments and vaccines, and also to support the world’s poorest and most marginalised communities.
Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said it was crucial that everyone who needed it should have access to a vaccine.
“I am trying to convince high-income countries to reserve vaccines not only for themselves but also for low- and middle income countries. This is a stress test for solidarity,” she said.
British Premier Boris Johnson concurred.
“If and when an effective vaccine is found, then we as world leaders have moral duty to ensure that it is truly available to all,” he said.
French President Emmanuel Macron was adamant about pooling efforts together.
“Let’s refuse an every man for himself approach, let’s continue to move forward together,” he said.
Italy, one of the hardest hit by the pandemic, echoed his sentiment.
The EU is championing global cooperation in efforts to control and end the pandemic, in contrast to the United States and China’s focus on national initiatives.
($1 = 0.8915 euros)
($1 = 1.3688 Canadian dollars)
(Reporting by Foo Yun Chee; Editing by Frances Kerry)