May 4, 2020 - Politics & Policy

U.S. skipped EU-hosted drive that pledged billions for coronavirus vaccine research

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Photo: Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

The leaders of nations, banks and organizations gathered Monday via video conference for a European Union-led summit, collectively pledging 7.4 billion euros ($8 billion) toward research for a coronavirus vaccine, AP reports.

Why it matters: The U.S. was noticeably absent, despite appearances from the "heads of state and government from Australia, Canada, Israel, Japan, Jordan, South Africa and Turkey spoke at the event, along with China’s EU ambassador" among the many European participants.

  • A senior administration official said on a State Department press call that the administration's "cooperation with European partners continues to be extremely robust, as it is with partners around the world."
  • The official also added that the U.S. "[welcomes] EU efforts to secure pledges for additional contributions to combat this pandemic. Many of the organizations and programs this pledging conference seeks to support already received very significant funding and support from the U.S. government and private sector."

The big picture: A coronavirus vaccine isn't likely to be available until mid-2021, at the earliest. But even if a viable vaccine is developed under the quickest timeline, there isn't expected to be enough doses for all individuals at the outset

  • UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said during Monday's call: "To reach everyone, everywhere, we likely need five times" the $8 billion pledged.
  • European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said the effort "will help kick-start unprecedented global cooperation."
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