Viewpoint by Inge Kaul
The writer, Dr Inge Kaul, is Senior Fellow, Hertie School, Berlin and Non-resident Senior Fellow, Center for Global Development, Washington, DC.
BERLIN (IDN) – European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen organized two spectacular fund-raising events, one on May 4 and the other on June 27, 2020. The first drive collected €9.8 billion and the second €6.15 billion, including €4.9 billion announced together by the EU and the European Investment Bank.
According to official pronouncements, the funds will be used to make coronavirus vaccines, testing and treatments available worldwide, notably in low and middle-income countries.
However, if we only consider the population of these countries, we arrive at a total figure of 6.4 billion. Yet, according to the EU’s estimates, the collected funds will only suffice to obtain 250 million doses of vaccines.
Indeed, to have these vaccines is better than to have none at all. But, why are policymakers using phrases like “making vaccines available as a public good”, “for all people” and “worldwide”, when de facto they will make just some vaccines available for some people?
Moreover, how much of the pledged funds are new and additional money? And the vaccines produced by which company or companies will they help procure? Will the best provider receive the funds, whether located in China, India, the US or Europe?
Also, besides wondering about who is helping whom, I find it disturbing that this relatively modest global solidarity effort needed a major global fun-event to attract attention.
While people worldwide are mourning their beloved ones who died of or with the virus, several million are still suffering from it or struggling against related after-effects, the EU Commission and its co-host, the international advocacy group Global Citizen, organizes big-time fun events.
For example, the pledging event on June 27 culminated in a concert featuring Shakira, Usher, Miley Cyrus and others. President von der Leyen herself appeared with wrestler-turned-action-movie-star Dwayne “the Rock” Johnson.
Why such a show and merriment when deep shock, distress, consternation, compassion and sympathy should be the forces that jolt us into action and open our purses more or less by themselves.
My request to the EU Commission is: Please, request your concerned staff how much money would actually be needed to make the coronavirus vaccine, testing equipment and other related services available for all, worldwide; how and by whom would the roll-out of these services be organized; and what interim humanitarian assistance programs are foreseen and to be financed by whom—in case a vaccine will not be available for several more months?
And, please, publish the answers to these questions in a rejoinder to this article. Let’s make ourselves honest – and demonstrate credible solidarity.
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See, for the pledging conferences on May 4 and June 27 also
Photo: European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen. Source: EU
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