Funding a vaccine

Leaders that do care about the world all focused on making sure a hypothetical vaccine must be available to everyone

Editorial May 06, 2020
A global effort to research, manufacture, and distribute treatment and a hypothetical future vaccine for the coronavirus crossed $8 billion in pledged funds in a matter of hours. The effort was led by the EU, the UK, Norway and Saudi Arabia. Leaders from Japan, Canada, South Africa and dozens of other countries also participated in the virtual summit. China was represented by its ambassador to the EU. The US — the wealthiest nation in the world and the worst hit by the virus — refused to participate or pledge any money. A news report did quote unnamed officials claiming the US is at the forefront of fundraising efforts, but it appears this official was taking a cue from the occupant of the White House because this is an easily-disproven barefaced lie.

Norwegian PM Erna Solberg regretted Trump’s decision to cut funding for the WHO and stay away from the conference, saying, “When you are in a crisis, you manage it and you do it jointly with others.” French President Emmanuel Macron was hopeful the US would eventually come on board. But we must disagree with Solberg and Macron. Given how terrible his management of the virus in the US has been, perhaps it is better that Trump and his administration have no role whatsoever in deciding how to respond. Apart from recognisable billionaires philanthropists such as Bill Gates, the names of a few other individual donors did catch the eye. Renowned singer Madonna, for example, donated $1 million. Yes, even a “Material Girl” is more generous than the US government.

Meanwhile, the leaders that do care about the world all focused on making sure a hypothetical vaccine must be available to everyone, and further fundraising for crisis response. This is because the Global Preparedness Monitoring Board estimates that most of the $8 billion would be needed immediately. However, British PM Boris Johnson, a Covid-19 survivor, is already scheduled to host another online donor summit next month.

Published in The Express Tribune, May 6th, 2020.

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