Coronavirus Global Response: €7.4 billion raised for universal access to vaccines

New Delhi: Today, the Commission registered €7.4 billion, equivalent to $8 billion, in pledges from donors worldwide during the Coronavirus Global Response pledging event. This includes a pledge of €1.4 billion by the Commission. This almost reaches the initial target of €7.5 billion and is a solid starting point for the worldwide pledging marathon, which begins today. The aim is to gather significant funding to ensure the collaborative development and universal deployment of diagnostics, treatments and vaccines against coronavirus.

President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, said: “Today the world showed extraordinary unity for the common good. Governments and global health organisations joined forces against coronavirus. With such commitment, we are on track for developing, producing and deploying a vaccine for all. However, this is only the beginning. We need to sustain the effort and to stand ready to contribute more. The pledging marathon will continue. After governments, civil society and people worldwide need to join in, in a global mobilisation of hope and resolve.”

The pledging event was co-convened by the European Union, Canada, France, Germany, Italy (also incoming G20 presidency), Japan, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (also holding the G20 presidency), Norway, Spain and the United Kingdom. The initiative is a response to the call from the World Health Organization (WHO) and a group of health actors for a global collaboration for the accelerated development, production and equitable global access to new coronavirus essential health technologies. The Coronavirus Global Response Initiative is comprised of three partnerships for testing, treating and preventing underpinned by health systems strengthening.

An ongoing pledging marathon

Today is an extraordinary achievement but also the start of a process to mobilise more resources. The initial target of €7.5 billion will not be enough to ensure the distribution of coronavirus health technologies worldwide, as this involves significant costs in terms of production, procurement and distribution.

To help reach the objectives of the Coronavirus Global Response, the European Commission is committing €1 billion in grants and €400 million in guarantees on loans through reprioritisation of Horizon 2020 (€1 billion), RescEU (€80 million), the Emergency Support Instrument (€150 million) and external instruments (€170 million).

€100 million will be donated to CEPI and €158 million to the World Health Organization. EU-funded calls for proposals and subsequent projects under Horizon 2020 will be aligned with the objectives of the three partnerships and subject to open access to data. Funding under RescEU will go towards the procurement, stockpiling and distribution of vaccines, therapeutics and diagnostics.

Donors are invited to continue pledging to the Coronavirus Global Response. They can choose which priority to donate to – Test, Treat or Prevent. They can also donate to the horizontal work stream of the Coronavirus Global Response, aiming to help health systems in the world cope with the pandemic.

The Commission will soon announce the breakdown of the amount raised today and how much will go to vaccines, therapeutics, diagnostics and health systems strengthening related to COVID-19.

A cooperation framework to align global efforts

A universal and affordable Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT-Accelerator) was the main objective of the 24 April call to action from global health partners. For this, significant funding is needed, as well as a solid collaborative structure, with a clarity of purpose to ensure that the donated money is put to good use and to avoid fragmentation of efforts.

Based on discussions with public and private sector partners as well as non-profit organisations, the European Commission proposes a collaborative framework for the ACT-accelerator global response. This framework is designed as a coordination structure to steer and oversee progress made globally in accelerating work on developing vaccines, therapeutics and diagnostics with universal access as well as strengthening health systems as required for meeting these three priorities.

This collaboration framework is intended to be time-bound (2 years, renewable) and build on existing organisations without creating any new structures. In the European Commission’s view, it would bring together partners like the WHO, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Wellcome Trust and some of the initial convenor countries as well as many recognised global health actors such as CEPI, Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, the Global Fund or UNITAID.

The core of the framework would be three partnerships based on the three priorities of the Coronavirus Global Response. They gather industry, research, foundations, regulators and international organisations, with a “whole-value-chain” approach: from research to manufacturing and deployment. The three partnerships would work as autonomously as possible, with a transversal work stream on enhancing the capacity of health systems and knowledge and data sharing.

The Commission registers and keeps track of pledges up until end of May but will not receive any payments into its accounts. Funds go directly to the recipients. Recipients will, however, not decide alone on the use of the donation, but deploy it in concertation with the partnership.The commitment is for all new vaccines, diagnostics and treatments against coronavirus to be made available globally for an affordable price, regardless of where they were developed.

Next steps

The global response must also include civil society, and the global community of citizens. For that reason, the European Commission is joining forces with NGOs such as Global Citizen and other partners.

The Global Vaccines Summit that Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, will organise on 4 June will mobilise additional funding to protect the next generation with vaccines. As the world relies on Gavi’s work for making vaccination available everywhere, the success of Gavi’s replenishment will be crucial to the success of the Coronavirus Global Response.