World leaders to hold virtual summit to drum up billions for COVID-19 vaccine

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An alliance of world leaders is holding a virtual summit Monday hoping to drum up billions of dollars to fund research into a vaccine for the new coronavirus as well as develop better treatments and more efficient testing.

Governments have reported around 3.5 million infections and more than 247,000 deaths from the virus, according to a count by Johns Hopkins University. But deliberately concealed outbreaks, low testing rates and the strain on health care systems mean the true scale of the pandemic is much greater.

People in many countries across the globe, and notably in Europe this week, are cautiously returning to work, but authorities remain wary of a second wave of infections, and a vaccine is the only real silver bullet to allow something like normal life to resume.

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The video-conference’s aim is to gather around 4 billion euros ($4.37 billion) for vaccine research, some 2 billion euros for treatments and 1.5 billion ($1.64 billion) for testing. Officials say that amount is just the start, as much more will be needed in the months ahead to scale up production and distribution.

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In a statement ahead of the meeting,

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