With the pandemic far from the headlines and mitigation measures relaxed in much of the world, the leaders of dozens of countries pledged this Thursday not to lose momentum in the fight against covid-19 and to prepare for future epidemics.

"The pandemic is not over" It was the most repeated mantra by the participants in the second world summit on covid-19, which was held virtually at a time when the United States is about to reach one million deaths from the disease.

"We have to avoid complacency. This summit is an opportunity to keep our foot on the gas to control this pandemic and prevent future health crises."US President Joe Biden said in a videotaped speech.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz acknowledged for his part that the war in Ukraine has displaced the pandemic from the headlines and that, "after more than two years people are just tired of reading about covid-19".

However, he insisted on the need not to lower our guard in the face of a pandemic that is still active and has killed more than 6.2 million people worldwide, a figure equivalent to "the population of Singapore or Denmark".

$3 BILLION IN NEW FUNDS

As happened in its first edition, which took place last September, this second virtual summit promoted by the United States had significant absences: Russia did not receive an invitation and China, immersed in a resurgence of covid-19 in several cities, did not He participated.

The dozens of countries that attended pledged to invest a total of more than 3,000 million dollars (2,880 million euros) to continue fighting the pandemic and prepare for other possible ones that may arrive in the future, according to the White House.

Of that sum, 962 million dollars (924 million euros), including 450 million dollars contributed by the US and another 450 million promised by the European Union (EU), will go to a new global security and preparedness fund. for the pandemic that the World Bank (WB) will launch in the middle of this year.

Beyond its contribution to that fund, the Biden government went to the meeting with little to promise economically, due to the refusal of the US Congress to authorize new emergency aid to fight covid-19.

Biden lamented this situation during the summit and recalled that he has asked Congress for $5 billion to combat the pandemic globally, but that proposal is stalled in the legislature.

An official US source warned in statements to the press that there are countries that are "rejecting" US vaccine donations "because they don’t have the resources they need" to manage them, as "refrigerators to store"something that Congress could solve.

USA SHARES A PATENT WITH THE WHO

In the absence of new funds, the United States went to the virtual meeting with a significant commitment in terms of intellectual property: the announcement that it will share with the World Health Organization (WHO) the patent of a key technology to manufacture vaccines of the covid-19.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) will assign to the WHO Medicines Patent Fund (MPP) its license for stabilized protein S, which has helped manufacture several covid-19 vaccines, such as those from Pfizer and Moderna.

Those two US drugmakers have so far refused to share the specific technology behind their vaccines, but the WHO hopes the US announcement will help manufacturers around the world develop new treatments and immunizations.

PENDING CHALLENGES

In the virtual summit, co-chaired by Belize, Germany, Indonesia and Senegal, several of the challenges of the current phase of the pandemic were addressed, such as the stagnation of the global vaccination campaign or the shortage of therapies against covid-19 in countries poor.

"We must accelerate efforts to vaccinate 70% of the global population, especially those with comorbidities"stressed the Prime Minister of Belize, John Briceño, who together with the President of Colombia, Iván Duque, was the only Latin American leader who gave a virtual speech at the summit.

Briceño, current president of Caricom, warned of the decrease in the number of tests that are being carried out globally and recalled that Latin America and the Caribbean is the region most affected in the world by the pandemic, and that the Caribbean basin in particular has registered recently a 15% increase in infections.

For his part, the President of the Spanish Government, Pedro Sánchez, announced during the summit that Spain will allocate an additional 200 million dollars (192 million euros) to the global vaccination campaign against covid-19.

This investment will allow him to donate 100 million doses "if epidemiological conditions require it"which represents 30 million more vaccines than those planned so far.

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