The European Union has pledged an additional €4.9 billion to make coronavirus vaccines, testing and treatments available worldwide, Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said during a virtual fundraising event today.
The pledging conference, which was organized by the Commission and international advocacy group Global Citizen, is set to culminate in a concert featuring Shakira, Usher, Miley Cyrus and others later on Saturday evening. Von der Leyen will co-host the event with wrestler-turned-action-movie-star Dwayne “the Rock” Johnson.
A previous EU-led global fundraising drive has to date collected €9.8 billion in pledges — the EU in May pledged €1.4 billion — although there were questions over how much of these commitments represented new resources.
Von der Leyen said the €4.9 billion were a commitment of “Team Europe … This is thanks to the close partnership between the European Commission and the European Investment Bank.” She added that the money would be used to help “vulnerable countries” through the coronavirus crisis.
Several heads of government sent in video messages that were aired during the fundraiser.
Belgium’s Prime Minister Sophie Wilmès, for example, said the main focus of her country’s pledge would be on the food crisis triggered by the pandemic. She promised “€4 million to reinforce health systems in vulnerable countries” and an additional €11.4 million for the World Food Program.
EU member countries pledged a total of €485 million in addition to the €4.9 billion committed by the European Investment Bank in partnership with the Commission. Overall, the pledging summit has “mobilised €6.15 billion in additional funding,” according to the Commission.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said that much had already been achieved, but global efforts needed to be stepped up. She added that her country would therefore make another €383 million available on top of what Berlin pledged in May.
French President Emmanuel Macron called on the global community to “pool and amplify … efforts so that the vaccine, the treatments and our health systems in general will protect us quickly and better against” the virus, warning against what he termed an “every-man-by-himself approach.”
Italy’s Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte also urged more “global cooperation for universal and equitable access to all COVID-19 tools.”