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World leaders launch push for Covid-19 vaccine – but US stays away

Issued on: 25/04/2020 – 07:05Modified: 25/04/2020 – 07:05

World leaders pledged on Friday to accel..

By admin , in Health , at April 25, 2020

Issued on: 25/04/2020 – 07:05Modified: 25/04/2020 – 07:05

World leaders pledged on Friday to accelerate work on tests, drugs and vaccines against COVID-19 and to share them around the globe, but the United States did not take part in the launch of the World Health Organization (WHO) initiative.

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French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and South African President Cyril Ramaphosa were among those who joined a video conference to launch what the WHO billed as a "landmark collaboration" to fight the pandemic.

The aim is to speed development of safe and effective drugs, tests and vaccines to prevent, diagnose and treat COVID-19, the lung disease caused be the novel coronavirus – and ensure equal access to treatments for rich and poor.

"We are facing a common threat which we can only defeat with

a common approach," WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom

Ghebreyesus said as he opened the virtual meeting.

"Experience has told us that even when tools are available they have not been equally available to all. We cannot allow that to happen."

During the H1N1 swine flu pandemic in 2009, there was criticism that distribution of vaccines was not equitable as wealthier countries were able to purchase more.

"We must make sure that people who need them get them," said Peter Sands, head of the Global Fund to Fight on AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria. "The lessons from AIDS must be learned. Too many millions died before anti-retroviral medicines were made widely accessible."

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said that the objective at a global pledging effort on May 4 would be to raise 7.5 billion euros ($8.10 billion) to ramp up work on prevention, diagnostics and treatment.

"This is a first step only, but more will be needed in the future," von der Leyen told the conference.

'Common fight'

Leaders from Asia, the Middle East and the Americas also joined the videoconference, but several big countries did not participate, including China, India and Russia.

A spokesman for the U.S. mission in Geneva had earlier told Reuters that the United States would not be involved.

"Although the United States was not in attendance at the meeting in question, there should be no doubt about our continuing determination to lead on global health matters, including the current COVID crisis," he said by email.

"We remain deeply concerned about the WHO's effectiveness, given that its gross failures helped fuel the current pandemic," he later said.

U.S. President Donald Trump has lambasted the WHO as being slow to react to the outbreak and being "China-centric" and announced a suspension of funding.

Tedros has steadfastly defended the WHO's handling of the pandemic and repeatedly committed to conducting a post-pandemic evaluation, as the agency does with all crises.

Macron, Merkel, Ramaphosa, and Spain's Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez were among those voicing strong support to WHO.

Macron urged all G7 and G20 countries to get behind the initiative, adding: "And I hope we'll manage to reconcile around this joint initiative both China and the U.S., because this is about saying 'the fight against COVID-19 is a common human good and there should be no division in order to win this battle'."

Merkel said: "This concerns a global public good, to produRead More – Source