News ID: 271827
Published: 0130 GMT July 21, 2020

EU agrees on huge virus aid plan

EU agrees on huge virus aid plan

European leaders on Tuesday agreed a massive aid package for their pandemic-ravaged economies.

The virus has infected more than 14.7 million people and killed over 610,000 of them since emerging in China late last year, with fresh alarm being sounded over its accelerating spread in Africa.

After a fractious, 90-hour summit, European leaders finally agreed on a rescue package of 750 billion euros ($858 billion) to try and pull their bloc out of a deep recession. The pandemic has devastated the global economy, AFP reported.

"This is a historic change for Europe," said French President Emmanuel Macron, while German Chancellor Angela Merkel expressed relief that the EU had, in her eyes, shown itself equal to "the greatest crisis" in its history.

The package will send tens of billions of euros to countries hit hardest by the virus, most notably heavily indebted Spain and Italy who had lobbied hard for a major gesture from their EU partners.

The talks saw strong resistance from some nations against sending money to countries they considered too lax with public spending.

There was criticism from others that the compromises made were too great.

Britain, who left the EU in January and will not benefit from the aid plan, revealed on Tuesday that state borrowing had rocketed to a record £127.9 billion ($162.5 billion, 142 billion euros) in the three months to June.

Britain has suffered Europe's deadliest coronavirus outbreak, with more than 45,000 deaths recorded to date.

And with even richer nations struggling, experts have warned that the impact would be harshest in poorer regions of the world like Africa.

The World Health Organization sounded the alarm about the situation there, particularly in South Africa, where the death toll crossed 5,000 over the weekend.

"I am very concerned right now that we are beginning to see an acceleration of disease in Africa," warned the WHO's emergencies chief Michael Ryan on Monday.

 Two new studies Monday offered some hope of a potential vaccine, however.

One trial among more than 1,000 adults in Britain found that a vaccine induced "strong antibody and T cell immune responses" against the coronavirus.

A separate trial in China involving more than 500 people showed most had developed widespread antibody immune response.


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