The European Commission has, on Monday (Feb. 24), pledged an aid package worth €232 million to boost global preparedness, prevention and containment of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).
The announcement comes following a meeting with European and other regional leaders at the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) headquarters in Geneva this afternoon. Part of these funds will be allocated immediately to different sectors, while the rest will be released in the next months.
‘A critical time’
The European Commission, in a statement, noted that the new EU funding will help detect and diagnose the disease, care for infected people and prevent further transmission of COVID-19 at this critical time.
“As cases continue to rise, public health is the number one priority. Whether it be boosting preparedness in Europe, in China or elsewhere, the international community must work together. Europe is here to play a leading role,” President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen contended.
Director-General of the WHO Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, welcomed the pledge, adding that the commission’s support comes at a critical time in the containment effort.
“Thank you @EU_Commission for working on all fronts to strengthen preparedness and support the global #COVID19 response. @WHO is grateful for your financial contribution of €232 million to fight the outbreak. Together, for a healthier, safer world,” Ghebreyesus tweeted.
COVID-19: Slowing down but still a major threat globally
At a press conference earlier, the WHO head disclosed that over 79,000 cases of the new coronavirus have been confirmed in 28 countries across the world, with the epicentre of the massive outbreak being in China.
“As of 6:00 am, Geneva time, China has reported a total of 77,362 cases, of COVID-19 to the WHO including 2,618 deaths. Outside China, there are now 2,074 cases in 28 countries and 23 deaths,” he told members of media.
Commissioner for Crisis Management, and European Emergency Response Coordinator, Janez Lenarčič warned that the pledge is necessary to control the outbreak and prevent further loss of life.
“With more than 2,600 lives lost already, there is no option but to prepare at all levels. Our new aid package will support the World Health Organisation and target funding to ensure countries with weaker health systems are not left behind. Our goal is to contain the outbreak at a global level,” Lenarčič argued.
What the €232 million aid package entails…
- €114 million will support the WHO’s global preparedness and response plan. The immediate fund injection is expected to boost public health emergency preparedness and response work in countries with weak health systems and limited resilience. Part of this funding is subject to the agreement of the EU budgetary authorities.
- €15 million is to be allocated in Africa, including to the Institute Pasteur Dakar, Senegal, to support rapid diagnosis and epidemiological surveillance, among other measures.
- €100 million goes to urgently needed research related to diagnostics, therapeutics and prevention, including €90 million through the Innovative Medicines Initiative, a partnership between the EU and the pharmaceutical industry.
- €3 million allocated to the EU Civil Protection Mechanism for repatriation flights of EU citizens from Wuhan, China.