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EU launches new COVID-19 fundraising to address concerns over equal access

FILE PHOTO: Small bottles labeled with a "Vaccine COVID-19" sticker and a medical syringe are seen in this illustration

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The European Commission launched a new global fundraising campaign on Thursday to finance the development and worldwide distribution of testing, vaccines and treatments against COVID-19, seeking to address concerns they may not be equally shared.

The new initiative, named "Global Goal: Unite For Our Future", is meant to raise tens of billions of dollars with private and public donations.

It follows another EU-led global campaign for the same goal which in less than a month has raised nearly $11 billion, more than half of it from EU nations and institutions.

The EU is increasingly taking a role as a champion of global cooperation while the United States and China, which have the world's largest economies, favour national initiatives.

Of the nearly $11 billion donated so far by governments, only $50 million came from China, while the U.S. shunned the initiative altogether, EU officials said.

"No one is safe until we are all safe," EU Commission president Ursula von der Leyen said, launching the new initiative, which will end with a pledging summit on June 27.

The new campaign, co-led by international advocacy organisation Global Citizen, illustrates the deep need for funds to develop and make vaccines and treatments available for everyone. COVID-19 has so far killed some 355,000 people worldwide, according to a Reuters tally.

Of the 10 candidate vaccines that the World Health Organisation (WHO) lists as being in advanced evaluation phase, five are being developed in China, three in the United States and one in Britain. For the remaining one, German biotech company BioNTech is cooperating with U.S. giant Pfizer and China's Fosun Pharma.

The United States and China have so far invested billions in COVID-19 vaccines and drugs research and to secure sufficient doses of the successful shot..

The EU is considering boosting its vaccine manufacturing capacity, concerned it may not have enough..

($1 = 0.9055 euros)


(Reporting by Francesco Guarascio @fraguarascio; Editing by Frances Kerry)