World leaders launched a pledging “marathon” on Monday – without the United States – to raise at least $8 billion for research into a possible vaccine and treatments for the coronavirus, AFP reports.
Organisers included the European Union, non-EU states Britain and Norway, as well as Japan, Canada and Saudi Arabia, although, China, where the virus originated in December, was only represented by its ambassador to the European Union.
Governments aim to raise funds over several weeks or months, building on efforts by the World Bank, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and wealthy individuals and turn the page on the fractious and haphazard initial response around the world.
“I believe the fourth of May will mark a turning point in our fight against coronavirus because today the world is coming together,” the head of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, said at the start of the event, pledging 1 billion euros ($1.09 billion).
She called the pledging effort a marathon.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who has recovered from a life-threatening battle with COVID-19, said the search for a vaccine was “the most urgent shared endeavour of our lifetime”, calling for “an impregnable shield around all our people”.