GENEVA: World leaders pledged on Friday to accelerate work on Covid-19 tests, drugs and vaccines and share them around the world, but the United States was not involved in launching the World Health Organization (WHO) initiative. ).
French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and South African President Cyril Ramaphosa were among those who joined a video conference to launch what the WHO had called a "historic collaboration" to combat the pandemic.
The goal is to accelerate the development of safe and effective drugs, tests and vaccines to prevent, diagnose and treat Covid-19, the lung disease caused by the new coronavirus, and to ensure equitable access to treatment for the rich and poor.
"We face a common threat that we can only overcome with a common approach," said WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus as the virtual meeting began.
“Experience has told us that even when the tools are available, they have not been equally available to everyone. We cannot allow that to happen. "
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said the goal of a global engagement effort in early May would be to raise 7.5 billion euros ($ 8.10 billion) to accelerate prevention work, diagnosis and treatment.
"This is only a first step, but more will be needed in the future," von der Leyen said at the conference.
Macron said: We will continue to mobilize all G7 and G20 countries to support this initiative. And I hope to reconcile ourselves with this joint initiative of both China and the United States. USA, because it is about saying: the fight against Covid-19 is a common human good and there should be no division to win this battle.
Ramaphosa, president of the African Union, warned that the continent, with its generally low standards of medical care, was "extremely vulnerable to the ravages of this virus and needs support."
Leaders from Asia, the Middle East, and America also joined the video conference, but a spokesman for the US mission in Geneva had previously said the United States would not participate.
"There will be no official United States participation," he said in an email response to a query. "We hope to learn more about this initiative in support of international cooperation to develop a vaccine for Covid-19 as soon as possible." The President of the United States, Donald Trump, criticized the WHO for being slow to react to the outbreak and for being "focused on China" and announced a suspension of funds.
Tedros has strongly advocated for WHO's management of the pandemic and has repeatedly committed to conducting a post-pandemic assessment, as the agency does with all crises.
According to a count, more than 2.7 million people have been infected with Covid-19 and nearly 190,000 have died from it since the new coronavirus emerged in the central Chinese city of Wuhan late last year.
More than 100 potential Covid-19 vaccines are being developed, including six that are already in clinical trials, said Dr. Seth Berkley, CEO of the GAVI vaccine alliance, a public-private partnership that leads immunization campaigns in poor countries.
"We need to make sure there are enough vaccines for everyone, we are going to need world leadership to identify and prioritize vaccine candidates," he said at a separate press conference in Geneva before participating in the formal WHO announcement.
Global manufacturing capacity needs to be increased before choosing the "winning" vaccine, Berkley said, noting that GAVI and the World Bank were studying the issue.
"We cannot repeat what happened in 2009: the H1N1 flu vaccine, when there was not enough supply for developing countries or when supply came, came much later." Another important question was how well a vaccine would work in people at increased risk for Cvoid-19, Berkley said.
Posted in Dawn, April 25, 2020