Global COVID-19 fundraising meeting raises $6.9 bln, leaders want vaccine for all

A researcher works on the diagnosis of suspected coronavirus COVID-19 cases in Belo Horizonte, state of Minas Gerais, Brazil. (File/AFP)
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Updated 27 June 2020

Global COVID-19 fundraising meeting raises $6.9 bln, leaders want vaccine for all

  • The pledging summit also included a televised and streamed fundraising concert featuring Miley Cyrus, Justin Bieber and Shakira
  • The money will be used for COVID-19 tests, treatments and vaccines

BRUSSELS: A global fundraising meeting on Saturday raised 6.15 billion euros ($6.9 billion) from the United States, the European Commission and numerous countries to fight COVID-19, with many participants stressing that an eventual vaccine should be available to anyone who needs it.
The pledging summit, part of a joint initiative by the EU executive and advocacy group Global Citizen, also included a globally televised and streamed fundraising concert featuring Miley Cyrus, Justin Bieber, Shakira, Chloe X Halle, Usher and others.
The Commission together with the European Investment Bank pledged 4.9 billion euros ($5.50 billion), the United States $545 million, Germany 383 million euros, Canada C$300 million ($219 million)and Qatar $10 million. Forty governments took part in the summit.
The money will be used for COVID-19 tests, treatments and vaccines, and also to support the world’s poorest and most marginalized communities.
Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said it was crucial that everyone who needed it should have access to a vaccine.
“I am trying to convince high-income countries to reserve vaccines not only for themselves but also for low- and middle income countries. This is a stress test for solidarity,” she said.
British Premier Boris Johnson concurred.
“If and when an effective vaccine is found, then we as world leaders have moral duty to ensure that it is truly available to all,” he said.
French President Emmanuel Macron was adamant about pooling efforts together.
“Let’s refuse an every man for himself approach, let’s continue to move forward together,” he said.
Italy, one of the hardest hit by the pandemic, echoed his sentiment.
The EU is championing global cooperation in efforts to control and end the pandemic, in contrast to the United States and China’s focus on national initiatives.


Pakistani baby born in Makkah reaches home, meets parents after yearlong wait

Updated 16 January 2021

Pakistani baby born in Makkah reaches home, meets parents after yearlong wait

  • Abdullah was born prematurely Jan. 9 last year to Pakistani Umrah pilgrims
  • Parents say medical treatment was paid for entirely by Saudi government

ISLAMABAD: A baby born prematurely to Pakistani Umrah pilgrims in Makkah last year was returned on Friday evening to his parents in Quetta, Pakistan — a full year after his birth and successful treatment in Saudi Arabia.

Bibi Hajra and her husband Ghulam Haider were forced to leave their baby behind after their Umrah visas expired following the birth of their son on Jan. 9 last year — a premature birth, with the baby weighing only 1 kg and suffering from severe medical complications at the Maternity and Children’s Hospital in Makkah.

The baby, named Abdullah, was placed on a ventilator and stayed on in the hospital for a period of 46 days under the observation of doctors and consultants specialized in neonatal intensive care.

After this, the child was transferred to special care under the supervision of the Social Service Department.

“We had to return to Pakistan and leave our baby in the hospital as our visas expired, and then could not go back due to coronavirus,” a tearful Hajra told Arab News on Saturday from Pakistan’s southwestern Quetta city.

“Initially, I was very worried about my baby, but the hospital administration remained in touch with us. They used to show me Abdullah on video and also send us his pictures,” she said.

“We are thankful to the Saudi government, hospital authorities, doctors, nurses and Pakistani consulate in Jeddah for their cooperation,” she added.

On Thursday, the Maternity and Children’s Hospital in Makkah handed Abdullah over to a delegation from the Pakistani Consulate after taking care of him for a full year.

Abdullah’s father, Haider, who is a dispenser at a small clinic in Quetta, also expressed his gratitude to the Saudi government and the Pakistani mission for their support.

“Our child remained under treatment for one year but we have not even been charged a single penny,” Haider told Arab News.

“All the expenses were taken care of by the Saudi government,” he said.

The return of Abdullah to Quetta, he continued, had been arranged by the Pakistani Consulate in Jeddah free of charge.

“The Pakistani Consulate was in contact with the hospital as well as with the parents of the child. They provided all the medical facilities and kept Abdullah in complete care. Now he is absolutely fine and one year old,” the community welfare attache of the Pakistani Consulate, Saqib Ali Khan, who received the boy from the hospital on Thursday, told Arab News.

“When the hospital administration assured us that the child is completely fine, we sent him back to Quetta through a delegation and he was received by the parents,” he said.

Khan thanked the Saudi government, the Saudi Ministry of Health and the medical team at the hospital for providing the child with special care, and for keeping in touch with the family in order to reassure them over the entire year of their separation.