Global leaders are launching an initiative with the World Health Organization (WHO) to accelerate the development of coronavirus drugs, tests, and vaccines and ensure equal access to all countries.
“I represented the Czech Republic at a videoconference with prime ministers and presidents from Australia, New Zealand, Israel, Austria, Denmark, Norway, and Greece,” said PM Andrej Babis.
Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said that “these countries reacted quickly and intensively and so have come through the crisis better than others”.
“The geography is very different but they are smaller countries, smart countries,” Kurz said, adding that the conference had focused on “how countries can best start up again, stimulate the economy and keep the virus under control at the same time”.
Kurz also said researchers from the countries in the group would be co-operating on work towards a possible vaccine and other treatments.
The aim was for the countries concerned to avoid becoming dependent on global superpowers in reacting to the crisis.
Singapore is also part of the group but its prime minister could not take part in the conference due to technical difficulties.
“The world needs these tools and needs them fast,” WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told the group. “We are facing a common threat which we can only defeat with a common approach,” he said.
More than 2.7 million people worldwide have been infected with COVID-19 and nearly 190,000 have died since the virus emerged in the central Chinese city of Wuhan late last year, according to a Reuters tally.
More than 100 potential COVID-19 vaccines are being developed, including six already in clinical trials, said Dr. Seth Berkley, CEO of the GAVI vaccine alliance, a public-private partnership that leads immunization campaigns in poor countries.
Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis will attend in New York this week the United Nations General Assembly.
The Czech prime minister said he had a meeting scheduled with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on the UN sidelines to discuss bilateral relations.
The annual event opens on Tuesday. The Czech government said Babis would address the gathering on Wednesday as a stand-in for President Milos Zeman.
The assembly will also be attended by Japan’s new foreign minister, Toshimitsu Motegi, who will be in New York from September 22-28. He said a meeting with his South Korean counterpart was not planned. Ties between the two neighbors soured this year over wartime forced labor.
Trade wars, migration, energy supplies, climate change and the eradication of poverty underpin the basic themes of the 193-member General Assembly agenda.
The White House said U.S. President Donald Trump on Monday will host a meeting on the Global Call to Protect Religious Freedom and is not scheduled to attend the climate summit.
Trump has announced that the United States was ending participation in the Paris Agreement. However, many U.S. states, municipalities, and businesses are continuing to abide by the Paris accord.
On Tuesday, Guterres and the president of the 74th session of the General Assembly, Tijjani Muhammad-Bande, will deliver opening remarks at the General Debate, followed by a probably eye-catching speech by Trump.