Several world leaders and organisations on Monday pledged $8 billion (over Rs 60,000 crore) to manufacture a vaccine to combat Covid-19, the diseases caused by the novel coronavirus, Reuters reported.

However, the United States was conspicuous in its absence at the Coronavirus Global Response International Pledging Conference. American officials reportedly said that the US was already spending billions of dollars to fund its own research, according to The New York Times.

The US is the worst affected country so far with a total of 11.8 lakh cases and 68,934 deaths. Globally, the coronavirus has infected over 36 lakh people and killed at least 2.51 lakh people, according to the Johns Hopkins tracker.

The money is meant to be used to fund laboratories across the world that have promising leads to research and develop a vaccine.

Global leaders as well as private persons and organisations offered contributions during the three-hour long conference, ranging from Romania’s modest contribution of $200,000 (about Rs 1.5 crore) to Canada’s – $850 million (about Rs 6,433 crore). Besides Canada, the other top donors were Japan, United Kingdom, Germany, France and Saudi Arabia, according to Forbes.

Dozens of other countries such as Australia, Netherlands, Norway and Spain, organisations such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and individuals such as American singer Madonna also pledged funds.

Russia was also absent at the conference, and China, which had initially refused to join, was only represented by its Ambassador to the European Union, and did not make a financial pledge.

“In the space of just few hours we have collectively pledged 7.4 billion euros ($8.04 billion) for vaccine, diagnostics and treatment” against Covid-19, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, said. “This will help kick-start unprecedented global cooperation.”

UK reports more than 32,000 cases

Meanwhile, the United Kingdom has the highest toll in Europe, with more than 32,000 deaths, The Guardian reported on Tuesday.

According to the Office for National Statistics, England and Wales had registered 29,648 deaths by May 2. If the deaths from Scotland and Northern Ireland are added, this would take the UK’s total toll to 32,313, much higher than the 29,029 deaths in Italy, which was the worst affected country in Europe so far.

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