EU donor conference raises 6.89 bn dollars in pandemic aid

Brussels - A coronavirus donor conference organized by the European Union on Saturday received pledges of aid totalling 6.15 billion euros (6.89 billion dollars).

Coronavirus fundraising event

The funds, which will go towards developing treatments and vaccines for the Covid-19 lung disease, was announced by EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen at the end of the online donor conference.

Everyone in the world must have access to tests, as well as any potential treatments or vaccines, von der Leyen had said earlier, no matter where they live, where they come from or what they look like.

Saturday's online event, which began at 3 pm, (1300 GMT) also featured panel discussions and speeches by academics and other leading European politicians such as German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron.

The event was followed by an online concert from 8 pm hosted by actor and wrestler Dwayne Johnson, also known as The Rock, who told viewers "we can only fight this crisis together."

Afterwards, musician Miley Cyrus sang a song dedicated to doctors and nurses, in front of the empty stands of a football stadium and singer Shakira performed, as did Justin Bieber, Coldplay and others.

In a video showing slums and refugee camps, World Health Organization chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus stressed the importance of vaccines being made available for the poorest and most vulnerable people.

Making sure everyone has "access to vaccines"

Former top model Naomi Campbell warned in a video message that black people suffered particularly badly from the consequences of the epidemic.

Former professional soccer player David Beckham stressed that it is important for people that sporting events start again, albeit initially without stadium spectators.

To date, the commission had already raised 10 billion euros (11.2 billion dollars) for the development and deployment of vaccines, commission spokesperson Eric Mamer said on Friday.

"The objective of the summit and concert is to raise even more funding to ensure access to vaccines everyone on earth for everyone who needs them," Mamer said.

"Artists have the power to inspire change. They use their talents to serve great causes," von der Leyen said in a press release.

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