Norway pledges $1bn to global coronavirus vaccination

Norway has pledged $1 billion to help distribute a future coronavirus vaccine to countries around the world at a global donor conference hosted by the European Union.

Norway pledges $1bn to global coronavirus vaccination
Erna Solberg is introduced at the summit by European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen. Photo: Screengrab
The money will go to the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation, to help fund its work between 2021 and 2030. 
“This conference is an expression of one key fact,” Solberg said during the virtual conference. “A global health crisis can only be pushed back through solidarity and through partnerships between governments, strong multilateral organisations, civil society and the private sector.” 
“As long as the virus is active somewhere, we are at risk everywhere,” she added. “To protect ourselves, we must in fact protect each other.” 
The pledge was part of a total $8 billion (€7.4bn) raised at the pledging event on Monday, which had been co-convened by the European Union, Canada, France, Germany, Italy (also incoming G20 presidency), Japan, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (also holding the G20 presidency), Norway, Spain and the United Kingdom. 
“Today the world showed extraordinary unity for the common good. Governments and global health organisations joined forces against coronavirus,” European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said in a press release after the pledges were made. 
“With such commitment, we are on track for developing, producing and deploying a vaccine for all.” 
In an interview with Reuters, Norway's Prime Minister Erna Solberg said was unfortunate that the US had not pledged any funds.  
“It is a pity the US is not a part of it. When you are in a crisis, you manage it and you do it jointly with others, she said.
She also said she regretted the US's decision to pull funding from the World Health Organisation. 
“Everyone will certainly evaluate their work at some point and see what could have been done differently,” she told the news agency. “But you do this afterwards, not when you are in the middle of it.”
Norway has provided financial backing to GAVI, a global partnership of private and public organisations focused on increasing access to vaccines in the world's poorest countries, ever since it was founded in 2000.
The $8bn raised fell just a fraction short of the Coronavirus Global Response event, and included a pledge of €1.4bn from the European Commission. 

Member comments

  1. So the EU with a population of 500 million plus, 27 countries, give roughly the same as Norway?

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Italy to step up test-and-trace and sequencing as concern grows about Delta virus variant

The Italian health ministry on Friday told local authorities to increase their coronavirus variant sequencing and tracing efforts, as new data confirmed that the Delta strain is spreading in Italy.

Italy to step up test-and-trace and sequencing as concern grows about Delta virus variant
Photo: Marco Bertorello/AFP

The ministry sent out the instruction in a circular after the Higher Health Institute (ISS) released new figures on Friday showing that the number of infections in Italy caused by the Delta and Kappa variants have increased by 16.8 percent in June.

“From our epidemiological surveillance, a rapidly evolving picture emerges that confirms that also in our country, as in the rest of Europe, the Delta variant of the virus is becoming prevalent,” said Anna Teresa Palamara, director of ISS’s infectious diseases department.

READ ALSO: Italian health experts warn about Delta variant as vaccine progress slows

According to ISS data published on Friday, the SARS-CoV-2 variant prevalent in Italy was found to be the Alpha variant (B.1.1.7), responsible for 74.9 of cases. This is now also the most prevalent globally.

Cases associated with Kappa and Delta variants (B.1.617.1/2) “are few overall in January to June”, the ISS report added. But it stated that the frequency and spread of these reports has “rapidly” increased across the country.

The new ISS figure  still lower than those from independent analysis of data from the virus-variant tracking database Gisaid, which estimated on Thursday that Delta now accounts for as much as 32 percent of recently confirmed new cases.

Several regions have already reported clusters of the Delta variant, though the amount of test result sequencing and analysis carried out by local health authorities in Italy varies and is often low.

Each region currently volunteers to do a certain number genetic sequencing of positive swabs, which means that Italy has less data available about the spread of variants than countries where sequencing is more widespread and systematic, such as the UK or Denmark.

The region of Puglia on Friday confirmed it would begin sending 60 test results per week for further analysis following the health ministry’s instruction.

Italian authorities had largely dismissed the risks posed by Delta in Italy until recently, describing its presence as “rare” in the country in the official data monitoring report released on June 11th.

Health officials had said at the end of May that they believed vaccinations would be enough to mitigate the risks.

But Italy’s government is now re-evaluating its approach following criticism of its response so far in a report published on Thursday by independent health watchdog GIMBE.

“A ‘wait-and-see’ strategy on managing the Delta variant is unacceptable,” wrote GIMBE head Dr. Nino Cartabellotta.

MAP: Where is the Delta variant spreading in Italy?

Photo: Marco Bertorello/AFP

The report described Italy’s current levels of full vaccination coverage as “worrying” considering “the lower effectiveness of a single dose against this variant “.

At the moment, just over a quarter of the Italian population is fully vaccinated against Covid-19, compared to 46% in the United Kingdom.

The report pointed out that some 2.5 million people aged over 60 in Italy have not yet received the first dose of a vaccine.

The foundation urged the government to “properly implement” measures recommended by the ECDC in its report published earlier this week: “enhance sequencing and contact tracing, implement screening strategies for those arriving from abroad, and accelerate the administration of the second dose in over 60s”.

Cartabellotta said: “You can’t control the Covid pandemic only with vaccines, masks and distancing. Today the Delta variant requires tracing and sequencing”.

Amid rising concern about the impact of the variant, which is thought to increase the risk of hospitalisation, Italian health authorities on Monday imposed new travel restrictions on arrivals from the UK – almost a month after other EU countries including France and Germany did the same.

Despite concerns about the spread of Delta, Italian health authorities on Friday also confirmed that all regions of Italy would be allowed to ease the health measures further from Monday, June 28th, as the number of infections recorded remained low this week.

READ ALSO: Italy to drop outdoor mask-wearing rule from June 28th

The last region still classed as a ‘yellow’ zone, Valle d’Aosta, will join the rest of the country in the low-risk ‘white’ tier, meaning most rules can be relaxed.

“With the decree I just signed, all of Italy will be ‘white’ starting from Monday. It is an encouraging result, but we still need caution and prudence,” Speranza
wrote on Facebook.

Referring to the spread of more transmissible variants of the coronavirus, the minister added: “the battle has not yet been won.”