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European leaders push vaccine financing drive

A couple wearing protectives face masks pass by a building where a woman holds a French flags as the neighbors applaud every evening at 8pm from their windows to support French medical staff amid the ongoing coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic in Saint Mande, near Paris, France, 02 May 2020. (AFP-Yonhap)
A couple wearing protectives face masks pass by a building where a woman holds a French flags as the neighbors applaud every evening at 8pm from their windows to support French medical staff amid the ongoing coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic in Saint Mande, near Paris, France, 02 May 2020. (AFP-Yonhap)

LONDON (AFP) -- European leaders are backing an initiative from Brussels to raise 7.5 billion euros ($8.3 billion) to tackle the global coronavirus pandemic.

The president of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, outlined the fund-raising plan for an international effort to find a vaccine and treatment for COVID-19 on Friday.

An online pledging conference will take place on Monday to plug gaps in financing of research.

Italy's Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, French President Emmanuel Macron, and Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel gave their support in an open letter published in weekend newspapers.

The president of the European Council, Charles Michel, and Norway's Prime Minister, Erna Solberg, also signed and all gave their backing to the World Health Organization in the face of US criticism about its handling of the crisis.

The funds raised will "kickstart an unprecedented global cooperation between scientists and regulators, industry and governments, international organisations, foundations and healthcare professionals", the leaders said.

But they warned that more money would still be needed to manufacture and deliver "available, accessible and affordable" medicines across the world.

"If we can develop a vaccine that is produced by the world, for the whole world, this will be a unique global public good of the 21st century," they added. (AFP)

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