Global leaders are launching an initiative with the World Health Organization (WHO) to accelerate the development of coronavirus drugs, tests, and vaccines and ensure equal access to all countries.
“I represented the Czech Republic at a videoconference with prime ministers and presidents from Australia, New Zealand, Israel, Austria, Denmark, Norway, and Greece,” said PM Andrej Babis.
Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said that “these countries reacted quickly and intensively and so have come through the crisis better than others”.
“The geography is very different but they are smaller countries, smart countries,” Kurz said, adding that the conference had focused on “how countries can best start up again, stimulate the economy and keep the virus under control at the same time”.
Kurz also said researchers from the countries in the group would be co-operating on work towards a possible vaccine and other treatments.
The aim was for the countries concerned to avoid becoming dependent on global superpowers in reacting to the crisis.
Singapore is also part of the group but its prime minister could not take part in the conference due to technical difficulties.
“The world needs these tools and needs them fast,” WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told the group. “We are facing a common threat which we can only defeat with a common approach,” he said.
More than 2.7 million people worldwide have been infected with COVID-19 and nearly 190,000 have died since the virus emerged in the central Chinese city of Wuhan late last year, according to a Reuters tally.
More than 100 potential COVID-19 vaccines are being developed, including six already in clinical trials, said Dr. Seth Berkley, CEO of the GAVI vaccine alliance, a public-private partnership that leads immunization campaigns in poor countries.