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World leaders launch multibillion-dollar coronavirus relief fund

World leaders launch multibillion-dollar coronavirus relief fund
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World leaders are launching a multibillion-dollar fundraising effort to address the global response against the coronavirus.

The campaign, which will formally launch on May 4, seeks to raise over $8 billion (7.5 billion euros) towards global efforts to combat COVID-19,  according to a statement from the president of the European Commission on Friday. It has the backing of the World Health Organization.

“We need to bring the world, its leaders and people together against coronavirus,” European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said in the statement.

The United States will not participate in the pledging fund, Reuters reported.

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"Although the United States was not in attendance at the meeting in question, there should be no doubt about our continuing determination to lead on global health matters, including the current COVID crisis,” a spokesman for the U.S. mission in Geneva told Reuters by email.

President TrumpDonald John TrumpBiden says GOP senators have called to congratulate him Biden: Trump attending inauguration is 'of consequence' to the country Biden says family will avoid business conflicts MORE suspended U.S. funding to the World Health Organization last week pending a  review over the organization’s leadership and management structure. 

Over a dozen world leaders joined a virtual event co-hosted by WHO on the campaign, including Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the U.N. Secretary General, the African Union Commission Chairperson, the G20 President and leaders from France, South Africa, Germany, Vietnam, Costa Rica, Italy, Rwanda, Norway, Spain, Malaysia and the U.K.

Funds from the executive branch of the EU will go towards supporting development of diagnostics, therapeutics and vaccines against COVID-19 and setting up systems to distribute those services in a fast, equitable and safe manner, von der Leyen said in her statement.  

The campaign is an outgrowth of a meeting of the Group of 20 nations with the largest economies last month which agreed to establish a global initiative on pandemic preparedness and response.

“We need to develop a vaccine, to produce it and deploy it to every corner of the world,” von der Leyen said. “And we need to make it available at affordable prices.”

Pledges are being invited from countries and global organizations. The pledging preview corresponds with the United Nations 2020 World Immunization Week, which began Friday and supports increased immunization around the world.

-- Updated at 4:17 p.m. ET