LONDON, 24 Apr (APM) - Global leaders including French President Emmanuel Macron and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen on Friday partnered with the World Health Organization (WHO) to launch an accelerated programme to develop drugs, tests and vaccines against Covid-19.
The collaboration, which has been touted as a "landmark" programme in a statement
by WHO, aims to find new solutions for the pandemic and share them across the world.
However, the U.S. is not involved, as reported by Thomson Reuters on Friday.
The news agency quoted a spokesman for the U.S. mission in Geneva: "There will be no U.S. official participation. We look forward to learning more about this initiative in support of international cooperation to develop a vaccine for Covid-19 as soon as possible."
U.S. President Donald Trump has spoken out against the WHO over its handling of the pandemic, and last week halted U.S. funding to the organisation (APMHE 66943
According to Reuters, the U.S. is the biggest overall donor to the WHO, contributing more than $400 million in 2019, roughly 15% of its budget.
The U.S. is still investing in research to tackle the pandemic. This week government agency the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) published a strategic plan for Covid-19 research priorities, including objectives for treatments and vaccines (APMHE 67074
WHO's collaboration involves an initial group of global health actors, including the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, The Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), GAVI The Vaccine Alliance, Global Fund, UNITAID and the Wellcome Trust.
It also includes a number of private sector partners and other stakeholders.
"We know that as long as anyone is at risk from this virus, the entire world is at risk - every single person on the planet needs to be protected from this disease."
It added that innovative Covid-19 diagnostics, therapeutics and vaccines are needed in a "record time and at a record scale and access to save millions of lives and countless trillions of dollars, and to return the world to a sense of normalcy".
While it recognises the significant amount of critical work, investment and initiatives are already ongoing around the world to expedite the development and deployment of Covid-19 related products and interventions, it will "not be enough".
"We must simultaneously and urgently accelerate the strengthening of sustainable health systems and capacities to enable the delivery of the new Covid-19 tools to those who need them to mitigate the knock-on impact on other diseases."
It said that lessons from the past have shown that even when tools are available to the world, too often some are protected while others are not, and this inequity is "unacceptable".
"All tools [that] address Covid-19 must be available to all. In the fight against Covid-19, no one should be left behind."
The collaboration has called out to the global community, including political leaders, to support the initiative and for donors to provide the necessary resources.
In a Friday statement
, European industry trade body EFPIA said the industry's researchers and scientists are "working around the clock" to accelerate the research and development of vaccines, diagnostics and therapeutics for use against Covid-19.
Additionally, it added that it is expanding its manufacturing capabilities and sharing available capacity to ramp up production once a successful medicine or vaccine is developed.
Nathalie Moll, EFPA's director-general, said: "This pandemic transcends borders and we stand in solidarity and unity with citizens, governments, health systems and key partners in research to tackle the coronavirus."