Coronavirus: World Health Organisation forms global vaccine alliance

The EU and African Union were represented but not China or the US

The World Health Organisation has formed an international alliance to ensure that Covid-19 vaccines and treatments are distributed fairly.

French President Emmanuel Macron, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation are involved in the alliance.

But China, where coronavirus first surfaced, and the US, whose President Donald Trump has said he will stop funding for the WHO, were not represented.

So far, more than 2.7 million have been infected and more than 190,000 people have died in the pandemic.

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said in an online briefing: “The world needs these tools and it needs them fast. In the past they have not been available to all. That cannot be allowed to happen again.

“This is a landmark collaboration to accelerate the development, production and equitable distribution of vaccines, diagnostics, and therapeutics for Covid-19.

“Our shared commitment is to ensure all people have access to all the tools to defeat Covid-19.”

Britain on Friday said it would support the landmark push for equal access to treatments for the virus.

The UK also announced it would co-host a Coronavirus Global Response Summit on May 4, aiming to raise £7 billion to develop treatments and tests to help bring the pandemic to an end.

British foreign minister Dominic Raab said the UK was “proud to support the WHO’s Call to Action to bring global health partners together to accelerate progress toward a vaccine”.

Africa is 'vulnerable’

Ms von der Leyen said the objective needed to raise $8.1 billion to ramp up work on prevention, diagnostics and treatment.

“This is a first step only, but more will be needed in the future,” she told the conference.

African Union chairman Cyril Ramaphosa warned the continent was “extremely vulnerable to the ravages of this virus and is in need of support".

UN chief Antonio Guterres said: “We face a global public enemy like no other. A world free of Covid-19 requires the most massive public health effort in history."

He stressed the need to ensure that any diagnostic tests developed to detect the new virus, any drugs produced to treat it, and any vaccine made to prevent it should be provided to all of those in need.

“The world needs the development, production and equitable delivery of safe and effective Covid-19 vaccine, therapeutics and diagnostics," he said.

“Not a vaccine or treatments for one country or one region or one-half of the world, but a vaccine and treatment that are affordable, safe, effective, easily administered and universally available, for everyone, everywhere.”

The UN chief’s vaccine appeal came a day after US President Donald Trump prompted outcry and ridicule with his suggestion that disinfectants be used to treat coronavirus patients.

“Is there a way we can do something like that, by injection inside or almost a cleaning?" Mr Trump mused during a televised briefing. “It sounds interesting to me."

As experts – and disinfectant manufacturers – rushed to caution against any such dangerous experiment, the president tried to walk back his comments, saying he had been speaking “sarcastically".

The United States is the hardest-hit country by far in the pandemic, recording 51,017 deaths and more than 890,000 infections.

The world’s biggest economy has been hammered by the pandemic, with 26 million jobs lost since the crisis began, and American leaders are under pressure to find ways to ease social distancing measures.

Updated: April 25, 2020 03:30 PM

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