On Monday, world leaders gathered for a digital coronavirus vaccine summit. The stated goal of the summit was to raise money from the world’s governments so that research on a timely vaccine for the novel coronavirus could be funded. By the end of the three-hour virtual summit, billions had been pledged for the vaccine research.
Notably absent, however, was the US. The Trump administration chose to skip the event altogether, as did Russia. Trump has stated that he fully expects the US to have a vaccine available for the virus before the end of the year. An official White House initiative called “Operation Warp Speed” is aimed squarely at this goal.
European Union Hosts Historic Summit
COVID-19 has not discriminated in its targets. Countries all over the world are struggling with the respiratory illness. At present, the only treatment for the virus is the experimental drug remdesivir, which has not yet been authorized for widespread use. Many labs are working on creating a vaccine for the virus, with the most promising at present being Oxford’s.
As the virus continues to spread essentially unchecked throughout the world, over three million people have been infected. Just over a quarter of a million people have died due to the disease. It’s no surprise that world governments would want to coordinate their response. COVID-19’s status as a pandemic is one of the most universal global emergencies in recent memory.
The summit, held on Monday, lasted three hours and hosted leaders from all over the world. By the end of the summit, the EU had raised over 8 billion dollars, just short of their stated goal. UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson noted that this wasn’t a competition among countries, but a rush to save lives. He should know: Johnson recovered from COVID-19 last month.
Money Pours in on ‘Down Payment’
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called the amount of money needed to immunize the world to the virus a good “down payment.” But, he continued, “to reach everyone, everywhere, we likely need five times that amount.”
Canada, Germany, the UK, France, Spain and many other countries all donated multiple millions of dollars.
Even some non-governmental organizations donated to the cause. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, for instance, pledged $100 million.
All this money is pouring in as nearly 100 labs rush to create a vaccine for the virus. While it normally takes years to create a vaccine for a novel virus, scientists hope that they can get a COVID vaccine ready in a matter of months.