Portugal contributes €10 million to Europe’s campaign to develop Covid-19 vaccine and treatment

In a press conference this morning, prime minister António Costa announced Portugal is contributing €10 million to Europe’s effort to develop a vaccine and treatment to combat Covid-19.

The money is due to be presented to the ‘global’ campaign launched by Brussels focused on raising €7.5 billion “to accelerate and scale-up research, development, access and equitable distribution” of a vaccine and “other life-saving therapeutics and diagnostics treatments”.

Outlining Portugal’s contribution from the headquarters of the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation in Lisbon today, Mr Costa stressed the country already has a significant joint effort of scientists, institutes and companies working to find answers to the pandemic.

The foundation itself is already developing serologic tests (to verify levels of immunity in society) that can be used at a “more advanced stage” of the pandemic, he said, while “companies are actively working towards finding therapies” whether these involve equipment, like ventilators, or “molecules that can be used in a treatment or vaccination phase”.

In other words, these efforts complement the financial contribution that has been put together in the following way:

State: €1.55 million, plus €8.45 million from the private sector:

  • EDP: €750,000 euros
  • EPAL: €750,000 euros
  • Apifarma: €500,000 euros
  • Associação Nacional de Farmácias: €500,000 euros
  • Banco Santander Totta: €500,000 euros
  • BPI: €500,000 euros
  • CGD: €500,000 euros
  • Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian: €500,000 euros
  • Jerónimo Martins: €500,000 euros
  • Millennium BCP: €500,000 euros
  • Novo Banco: €500,000 euros
  • Sociedade Francisco Manuel dos Santos: €500,000 euros
  • Sonae: €500,000 euros
  • Galp: €300,000 euros
  • Fundação Aga Khan Portugal: €250,000 euros
  • Fundação Champalimaud: €250,000 euros
  • Fundação Manuel António da Mota: €250,000 euros
  • Mello Saúde: €150,000 euros
  • Luz Saúde e Multicare: €150,000 euros
  • United Health, Hospital Lusíadas: €100,000 euros

Mr Costa also alluded to Portuguese “beyond those in Europe” involved in the world’s efforts to find an answer to this new coronavirus.

They are ‘iberoamericans and people from Portuguese speaking countries” – and for this, Portugal can be seen as “a bridge between various continents”, he said, concluding: “Together, we can win this battle. We can have good reasons to trust in efforts that the Portuguese have already made to fight this pandemic, and we must be grateful for the effort that our health professionals have made to fight this pandemic. But we need to be aware that it is not enough to make efforts at home, we have to join everyone’s efforts to fight this pandemic globally”.

Signing their names to the EU fund raising campaign this week, president of the European Council Charles Michael, President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen, Italian prime minister Giuseppe Conte, French President Emmanuel Macron, Chancellor of Germany Angela Merkel and prime minister of Norway Erna Solberb wrote: “If we can develop a vaccine that is produced by the world, for the whole world, this will be an unique global public good of the 21st century. Together with our partners, we commit to making it available, accessible and affordable to all.”

Ms von der Leyen has made it clear that the €7.5 billion figure is only a starting point. “In the future more money will be necessary”, she has said.


Image: João Relvas/Lusa