As the death toll from the coronavirus outbreak reaches 563 in China, health experts prepare to meet in Geneva next week in an attempt to develop a vaccine. The World Health Organization on Wednesday called for $675 million (613 million euros) in donations for a plan to fight the novel coronavirus, mainly through investment in countries considered particularly “at risk”.
“Today we’re launching a strategic preparedness and response plan…. We’re requesting $675 million to fund the plan for the next three months,” WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said at a news conference in Geneva.
I just briefed media on the #2019nCoV outbreak & today’s launch of a Strategic Preparedness & Response Plan, to fund and support countries to prevent, detect & diagnose onward transmission.
We must invest today, or we will pay more later.https://t.co/0ufsTc3f7i
— Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus (@DrTedros) February 5, 2020
“Our message to the international community is investing today or pay more later,” Tedros said, adding that the funding appeal was “much less than the bill we will have to pay if we do not invest in preparedness now”. Tedros said $60 million of the funds would be for WHO operations while the remainder would go to countries requiring assistance to guard against the deadly virus.
He said WHO was sending 500,000 masks and 40,000 respirators to 24 countries from its warehouses in Dubai and Accra. Tedros also hailed a $100 million donation from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation announced earlier on Wednesday for virus testing, treatment and vaccine research.
Asked about Britain’s call for its nationals to leave China, Tedros said: “That blanket approach may not help. We encourage all countries to make decisions based on evidence.” He said an international expert mission being organised by WHO would be leaving for China “very, very soon”. On Thursday Japan reported 10 more infections among passengers aboard a luxury cruise liner quarantined outside Yokohama.