• Op-Ed: British Ambassador on COVID-19, Foreign Assistance and Vaccine Development

    Op-Ed: British Ambassador on COVID-19, Foreign Assistance and Vaccine Development
    20 May 2020 | 09:06

    There has been a lot of noise recently about which country or international organization is doing the most to help Moldova to face the medical challenges and economic consequences of COVID-19. Much of the comment has been factual and informative, but there have been many attempts to obscure the truth and distort facts: “COVID-19 came from the West, and the aid is coming from the East” claimed one internet-based news-site in the early stages of the crisis.  

    They say that truth is the first victim in time of war and it seems that in a time of pandemic too.

    Many of Moldova’s friends have provided timely and invaluable aid to the country.  There have been very significant and rapid disbursements from the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank – in both of which the United Kingdom is a major shareholder. The European Union has offered large grants and loans. Yes, some of that assistance is subject to conditionality, but it is conditionality designed to promote policies that deliver real benefits to the citizen.  

    Many European countries have also provided direct, bilateral aid in various forms. Germany, Switzerland, Slovakia, France, Hungary, Sweden, Austria, Russia, and, notably, Romania amongst others. The United Kingdom also provided direct support. We were the first country to provide much-needed personal protective equipment to the military hospital in Chișinău. Moreover, soon a 150,000 euros grant will be available to purchase personal protective equipment and support vulnerable communities. We are donating the grant through the United Nations Moldova (U.N.). 

    According to the data provided by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, the figures for official development assistance to Moldova in the period 2009-2018 show as follows:

    SourceAmount (millions of euros)
    EU Institutions1,192.4
    European Economic Area (EEA) countries, including the U.K.748.9 (of which 219.8 from Romania)
    the U.S.501.4
    World Bank323.7
    IMF402.9
    U.N.74.4
    Russia3.5

    It should not surprise us that most of Moldova’s assistance is coming from Europe. Moldova is a European country, after all, and most of its trade is with Europe.  

    Recently, a highly respected European ambassador said that this is not a beauty contest. This is about supporting the development and prosperity of a sovereign European state, and its gradual integration into the family of European nations. In recent months, it also has been about helping that state to save the lives of its citizens. 

    The Moldovan government’s policy response to the COVID-19 pandemic has been praised by international partners – including the U.N. and the World Health Organization.  But no country will escape the grip of COVID-19 until all do. We need to face down the immediate threat. And we need to find a vaccine.  

    The U.K. is at the heart of this global effort, offering funding and expertise in a spirit of collaboration, without borders. One of the most promising projects is between Oxford University and the U.K.-Swedish pharmaceutical firm, AstraZeneca. On May 4, we co-hosted the Global Coronavirus Response Initiative, alongside the European Commission, Norway, Germany, France, and Saudi Arabia. The event raised $7 billion for R&D on vaccines, therapeutics, and diagnostics.  The U.K. has committed £360 million to these goals, including £250 million to the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), making us the largest contributor to the COVID-19 funding request. 

    In total, we have pledged £744 million to support efforts to stop the spread of COVID-19, find a vaccine, and save lives around the world.

    On 4 June, the U.K. Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, will host the Global Vaccine Summit, which is designed to replenish the funds of the global vaccine and immunisation Alliance (GAVI). We have pledged £1.65 billion over the next five years to GAVI.  This will help to ensure the delivery of life-saving vaccinations for millions of children in 68 countries, saving lives and strengthening health systems

    “We are engaged in a shared endeavor to defeat the pandemic. By working together in a spirit of mutual support, we will find much-needed solutions even more rapidly,” Her Majesty, the Queen said in Her recent address to the British people.    

    Steven Mark Fisher,
    British Ambassador to Moldova

    Editor’s Note: This article is an editorial written by Steven Fisher, the United Kingdom Ambassador to Moldova. The views and opinions expressed in it are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Ziarul de Gardă.

    AUTHOR MAIL eng.zdg@gmail.com

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