Coronavirus: Switzerland responds to humanitarian needs and supports the development of diagnostics, therapeutics and vaccines

Bern, 13.05.2020 - At its meeting of 13 May 2020, the Federal Council approved the allocation of CHF 175 million for the global fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. These funds will be used for humanitarian aid, the development and production of diagnostics, therapeutics and vaccines, and efforts aimed at ensuring equitable access to these medical solutions worldwide. The CHF 175 million is part of a CHF 400 million package approved by the Federal Council two weeks ago.

On 29 April 2020, the Federal Council approved CHF 400 million in support of international efforts to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic. These funds are intended to support people in poverty and need, especially in developing countries. Switzerland accordingly decided to provide the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) with a CHF 200 million interest-free loan and to contribute CHF 25 million to an International Monetary Fund (IMF) rapid credit facility. At its meeting of 13 May 2020, the Federal Council decided on the use of the remaining CHF 175 million.

Focus on humanitarian aid, innovation and health
Of this CHF 175 million, the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation has already allocated CHF 52 million, including contributions to the UN and the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement as well as bilateral aid consisting of relief supplies and other assistance in humanitarian crisis regions. Switzerland has also provided the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations with CHF 10 million for research into a vaccine against the COVID-19 virus.

At its meeting earlier today, the Federal Council also decided to support additional initiatives:
- CHF 60 million has been earmarked for the development and supply of COVID-19 diagnostics, therapeutics and vaccines. Half of these funds will go Gavi, a Geneva-based alliance specialising in vaccine supply in developing countries. The other half will go to the Wellcome Trust and the Foundation for Innovative New Diagnostics, which promote access to COVID-19 diagnostics and therapeutics in developing countries.
- CHF 50.5 million will be used to meet the growing need for humanitarian aid worldwide – both in response to emergency appeals by the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement and the UN and for bilateral aid.
- Switzerland is also providing CHF 2.5 million to the World Health Organization's efforts to coordinate the international response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

It is in Switzerland's interests to ensure a strong international response to this pandemic, which knows no borders. This Federal Council decision also responds to a motion put forward by the National Council Foreign Affairs Committee calling for a CHF 100 million increase in humanitarian aid credits for 2020.

As a result of the current situation, the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA) will be able to save about CHF 20 million by the end of the year. This money will be spent on humanitarian aid provided as part of efforts to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic.

Developing countries particularly at risk
COVID-19 is not only affecting people's health, but also economic and social life. It is hitting developing countries especially hard: many of them do not have a functioning healthcare system, and their populations do not have savings, regulated working conditions or a stable social security system to protect them against the loss of their livelihoods. Loss of livelihood leads to an increased risk of unrest, forced displacement and irregular migration. It is therefore very much in Switzerland's interests to provide rapid and unbureaucratic assistance to people in poverty and need. As the host state of a large number of international organisations based in Geneva, Switzerland is well equipped to make a major contribution to international efforts to mitigate the impact of this global pandemic.

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