Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Help Support EcoWatch

U.S. Sits out as World Leaders Pledge $8 Billion to Find a COVID-19 Vaccine

Politics

World leaders met in a virtual summit on Monday and pledged $8 billion to ramp up efforts to find a vaccine and treatments for the novel coronavirus, but the U.S. was noticeably absent from the summit, as The Washington Post reported.


The European Union-organized fundraiser brought together leaders from around the world, including Japan, Canada, Australia and Norway, to fund laboratories that have shown some promise in developing a vaccine. There were pledges from prime ministers, presidents, a king and even the pop star Madonna. The Trump administration said it is already spending billions for research in the U.S., according to The New York Times.

The administration's disinterest in international cooperation has alarmed global health officials and diplomats seeking a worldwide effort to end the pandemic that has crippled global markets and killed more than 250,000 people. The concerns are growing that President Trump has squabbled with China over the origin of the disease and cut off U.S. support to the World Health Organization, as POLITICO reported.

"The more we pull together and share our expertise, the faster our scientists will succeed," said UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson in the conference, according to The Washington Post. "The race to discover the vaccine to defeat this virus is not a competition between countries but the most urgent shared endeavor of our lifetimes."

Last month, Johnson was rushed to an intensive care unit as he suffered from COVID-19 symptoms.

The various leaders on the call pledged as much as they could and took a few moments to boast of their efforts to stop the pandemic. There was a wide range of pledges from Romania, which pledged $200,000, to Canada's $850 million pledge. The two largest donations were from the European Union and Norway. They both pledged $1.1 billion, or 1 billion euros, as The New York Times reported.

Just as wealthier nations are buying up ventilators, tests, and personal protective equipment, leaving poorer countries woefully underprepared for a health crisis, the U.S. strategy of not participating in international efforts raises concerns that a vaccine will be hoarded by a wealthy nation.

"The worst situation would be, if when these tools are available, they go to the highest bidder — that would be terrible for the world," said Melinda Gates, who, along with husband, Bill, has devoted billions to health research, as POLITICO reported. "Covid-19 anywhere is Covid-19 everywhere. And that's why it's got to take global cooperation."

"It's the first time that I can think of where you have had a major international pledging conference for a global crisis of this kind of importance, and the U.S. is just absent," said Jeremy Konyndyk, who worked on the Ebola response in the Obama administration, as The Washington Post reported.

He added that since nobody knows which research arm will succeed in a vaccine, it's crucial to back multiple simultaneous efforts.

"Against that kind of uncertainty we should be trying to position ourselves to be supporting — and potentially benefiting from — all of them," said Konyndyk to The Washington Post. "And instead we seem to be just focused on trying to win the race, in the hopes we happen to get one of the successful ones."

The Trump administration declined to explain why they would not take part in the global effort, but they did look to boast about their own efforts to support vaccine research worldwide, including $2.6 billion through the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, an arm of the Health and Human Services Department. Jim Richardson, the State Department's director of foreign assistance, added that American companies had also provided $7 billion toward a coronavirus vaccine and treatment, according to The New York Times.

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

A man observes the damages caused to his neighborhood from Tropical Storm Amanda on May 31, 2020 in San Salvador, El Salvador. Guillermo Martínez / APHOTOGRAFIA / Getty Images

At least 14 people were killed when Tropical Storm Amanda walloped El Salvador Sunday, Interior Minister Mario Duran said.

Read More Show Less
A fire in Greenland on July 10. Zombie fires smolder underground for months, notably in dense peatlands, and then flare-up when it grows warmer and drier. NASA

By Mark Kaufman

Some fires won't die.

They survive underground during the winter and then reemerge the following spring, as documented in places like Alaska. They're called "overwintering," "holdover," or "zombie" fires, and they may have now awoken in the Arctic Circle — a fast-warming region that experienced unprecedented fires in 2019. The European Union's Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service is now watching these fires, via satellite.

Read More Show Less
Mourners after a mass burial of coronavirus victims in Brazil, which now has the world's second largest outbreak after the U.S. Andre Coelho / Getty Images

The total number of confirmed coronavirus cases passed six million Sunday, even as many countries begin to emerge from strict lockdowns.

Read More Show Less
Pexels

By Daniel Yetman

Bleach and vinegar are common household cleaners used to disinfect surfaces, cut through grime, and get rid of stains. Even though many people have both these cleaners in their homes, mixing them together is potentially dangerous and should be avoided.

Read More Show Less
During a protest action on May 30 in North Rhine-Westphalia, Datteln in front of the site of the Datteln 4 coal-fired power plant, Greenpeace activists projected the lettering: "Climate crisis - Made in Germany" onto the cooling tower. Guido Kirchner / picture alliance / Getty Images

Around 500 climate activists on Saturday gathered outside the new Datteln 4 coal power plant in Germany's Ruhr region, to protest against its opening.

Read More Show Less
Dr. Mark Brunswick (2R), Vice President of Regulatory Affairs and Quality, walks through the lab at Sorrento Therapeutics in San Diego, California on May 22. ARIANA DREHSLER / AFP / Getty Images

By Julia Ries

Around the world, there have been several cases of people recovering from COVID-19 only to later test positive again and appear to have another infection.

Read More Show Less

Trending

By Samantha Hepburn

In the expansion of its iron ore mine in Western Pilbara, Rio Tinto blasted the Juukan Gorge 1 and 2 — Aboriginal rock shelters dating back 46,000 years. These sites had deep historical and cultural significance.

Read More Show Less