4 May 2020

European Commission launches a worldwide campaign to combat Covid-19

The Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation is one of the donors of this movement that intends to raise €7.5 billion

© Paulo Vaz Henriques - Gabinete PM

The Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation has accepted the challenge launched by the European Commission and the Portuguese Government that intends to create a cooperation platform to raise funds destined to support a global response to the Covid-19 pandemic. This initiative will be combining the efforts of governments, entrepreneurs, foundations and citizens of the European Union to raise €7.5 billion with the intent of accelerating the development, production and distribution of vaccines, as well as the diagnose and treatment of Covid-19.

On the 4th of May, the Prime Minister António Costa announced the first national donors to join this movement (both public and private) in a ceremony at the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation. Before an audience with some of the major national entrepreneurs and bankers, alongside with the Minister of the Environment João Pedro Matos Fernandes, the Minister of Health Marta Temido, the Minister of Science, Technology and Higher Education Manuel Heitor, the Prime Minister António Costa thanked every part for the immediate response to the appeal and announced a Portuguese contribution of €10 million as the result of a public and private effort. Later that day, in a videoconference with the international donators, António Costa did not show up empty-handed: “In the name of the 10 million Portuguese, we will be contributing with €10 million for the European effort towards a global response to the Covid-19 pandemic”. The Prime Minister has emphasized the importance of joint efforts because “global challenges need global responses” and assured the audience that “together we can win this challenge”.

Before António Costa’s intervention, the President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen stressed, in a short declaration previously recorded, that the response to the pandemic can only be global and that it is absolutely necessary to join forces and mobilize resources in order to obtain a globally accessible vaccine. After showing her gratitude for signs of commitment and solidarity from all over the world, from artists, entrepreneurs, sportsmen, and others, Ursula von der Leyen expressed the certainty that “together we are stronger, and we will defeat the virus”.

The President of the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, as the host of this ceremony, argued that the Foundation responded to the challenge of the Prime Minister because “the moment is serious” and “demands the mobilization of several efforts and a spirit of unity and solidarity” but also because “this is a project of hope and Portugal must be a part of it”. Isabel Mota also praised the Portuguese scientists “who have been capable of giving an immediate response and started networking almost spontaneously in a unique way”. The President also stressed that this initiative “will set the necessary scale to find the vaccine and assure its global distribution. If this crisis has aggravated inequalities and the living conditions of the most vulnerable populations across the world and in all sectors in an unprecedented way, it is now more urgent than ever to embrace the concept of solidarity”.

The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Augusto Santos Silva, also mentioned the importance of coordination, collaboration and cooperation on a European level to face this crisis but also of the fact that Portugal is taking part in this initiative. Santos Silva pointed out that the collaboration must involve the social sector, companies and scientific systems which “constitute a rich and important resource of the European Union”.

Alongside with the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, this initiative was joined by Sociedade Francisco Manuel do Santos, Jerónimo Martins, EDP, EPAL, APIFARMA, Associação Nacional de Farmácias, Banco Santander Totta, BPI, Caixa Geral de Depósitos, Millennium BCP e Novo Banco, Sonae, Galp, Imamat Ismaili, the Champalimaud Foundation, CUF, Luz Saúde, Multicare and United Health (Hospital dos Lusíadas).