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EU hosts pledge drive for COVID-19 vaccine, treatment

BRUSSELS

Today could mark a turning point in the fight against coronavirus, European Commission head Ursula von der Leyen said on Monday at the opening of a pledge drive for funds to fight coronavirus.

The international Coronavirus Global Response conference hosted by the European Commission aims to raise €7.5 billion ($8 billion) for diagnostics, treatment, and vaccines following the call of the World Health Organization.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is among the participants in the pledge drive.

The money raised should be considered a down payment on making coronavirus treatment “available and affordable for all,” said von der Leyen, adding that a pledge “marathon” should follow.

Von der Leyen, together with European Council President Charles Michel, offered €1 billion ($1.09 billion) in EU funds for the cause.

“The scope of our efforts must match the scope of the crisis,” Michel said adding that developing treatment is “crucial for Europe, even more critical for our partners around the world.”

French President Emmanuel Macron also spoke about the importance of turning coronavirus vaccines into a “worldwide public good” which everyone can benefit from.

He also underlined the importance of private stakeholders and businesses supporting the initiative in addition to governments, saying: “We will not deal with this unless we’re all in together.”

German Chancellor Angela Merkel called the pledge conference “a moment of hope” when leaders can look beyond the pandemic and focus on real multilateral cooperation.

France and Germany pledged €500 million ($546 million) and €525 million ($547 million), respectively, for the fund.

State and business leaders from all around the globe are expected to offer support for the Coronavirus Global Response, including Erdogan, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and South African President Cyril Ramaphosa.

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