The European Commission and global donors have pledged €7.4 billion to a fund aimed at ensuring collaborative development and universal deployment of diagnostics, treatments, and vaccines for Covid-19.
The Coronavirus Global Response pledging event is the beginning of a global fundraising marathon organized by the European Union and G20 nations in response to a World Health Organization call.
The EU itself has pledged €1B in grants and €400M in guarantees on loans. The money comes in the form of refocusing ongoing funding projects such as the Horizon 2020 project, which can provide €1B of the target, and also providing €100M to the World Health Organization.
Much of the funding raised will go directly to three new partnerships, each created especially to speed up the development of either vaccines, treatments, or diagnostics for Covid-19.
“The partnerships, supported by a group of governments and private non-profit organizations, would bring together the industry, research, foundations, regulators and international organizations, with a whole value chain approach, from research to manufacturing and deployment,” an EU representative told me.
The three worldwide partnerships would be headed by existing groups that will receive most of the funding. For example, the Therapeutics Accelerator and UNITAID will see funding for therapeutics development. Diagnostics will be overseen by the Foundation for Innovative New Diagnostics and the Global Fund. Finally, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness and Innovation (CEPI) and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance will team up to handle vaccine development and vaccine deployment.
The initiative will break down the amounts of money going to each partnership at a later date.
Other organizations aside from these main players can also join up and receive pledges, as long as they are committed to participating in a new collaboration called the Act-Accelerator framework, which has similar aims to the Coronavirus Global Response initiative.
“A recipient will not decide alone on the use of the donation but will deploy it in concert with the partnership,” said the EU representative.
“The World Health Organization will lead discussions and work on product allocation in the three partnerships. The commitment is for all new vaccines, diagnostics, and treatments developed for Covid-19 to be made available globally for an affordable price, regardless of where they were developed.”
The Oslo-based CEPI — which has €100M earmarked for it from this money raised — is also fundraising for its own effort to support Covid-19 vaccines. These include those of the German biotech CureVac and the Austrian company Themis. CEPI has raised over $924M of a $2B target so far, but it is unclear if these funds will form part of the new initiative to coordinate vaccine development with Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance founded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
According to the EU representative, companies such as biotechs can also receive funding from various projects individually such as CEPI and Horizon 2020 to speed up the development of strategies against Covid-19.
The money raised in this first closing almost matched the target amount of €7.5B. However, it is only pledged so far, and not in the hands of the initiative. Furthermore, the €7.5B target is just the starting point — it won’t be able to cover the vast expenditure needed to develop and distribute vital health equipment around the world.
So far, much of the funding has come from G20 and the EU. The US was conspicuously absent from the list of G20 nations involved, following President Trump’s decision to defund the WHO last month.
“The US, like many other countries, has been invited to participate. We hope that US initiatives are aligned with the spirit behind the Coronavirus Global Response, which is the universal and affordable access of new diagnostics, treatments, and vaccines against COVID-19, leaving no one behind,” said the EU official.
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