World leaders, including United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres, have called for $23 billion to support the ACT-Accelerator established in April 2020, just weeks after the pandemic was declared, to speed up development and access to COVID-19 tests, treatments and vaccines. The campaign launched on Wednesday aims to meet a $16 billion financing gap, and nearly $7 billion for in-country delivery costs in the bid to end the pandemic as a global emergency this year.
The global vaccine solidarity initiative COVAX is one of the four pillars of ACT-Accelerator.
The co-chairs of the ACT-Accelerator Facilitation Council, which provides high-level political leadership to advocate for resource mobilization, recently wrote to more than 50 rich countries to encourage “fair share” contributions.
“Vaccine inequity is the biggest moral failure of our times – and people are paying the price,” said António Guterres, underlining the urgency to act now. “Until and unless we can ensure access to these tools, the pandemic will not go away, and the sense of insecurity of people will only deepen.”
The partnership brings together governments, scientists, philanthropists, businesses, civil society and global health organizations such as GAVI, the vaccine alliance; the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), and the UN’s health agency, WHO.
The financing framework is calculated based on their national economies and what they would gain from a faster global economic and trade recovery. The funding will help to curb coronavirus transmission, break the cycle of variants, relieve overburdened health workers and systems, and save lives, world leaders said, warning that with every month of delay, the global economy stands to lose almost four times the investment the ACT-Accelerator needs.
Financing will be used to procure and provide lifesaving tools, and personal protective equipment (PPE) for health workers, to low and middle-income countries. It will support measures that include driving vaccine rollouts, creating a Pandemic Vaccine Pool of 600 million doses, purchasing 700 million tests, procuring treatments for 120 million patients, and 100 per cent of the oxygen needs of low-income countries.
“The longer inequitable access to COVID-19 vaccines, tests and treatments persists, the longer the pandemic will persist,” said President Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa, who co-chairs the Facilitation Council together with Norwegian Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre.
Since its inception, the ACT-Accelerator has funded vital research and development of new therapeutics, vaccines, and diagnostics, and delivered over a billion vaccine doses through COVAX, among other achievements.
The mechanism has an overall budget of $23.4 billion and donors are urged to contribute $16.8 billion. They have already pledged $814 million, leaving the $16 billion funding gap. It is expected that the remaining $6.5 billion will be self-financed by middle-income countries.
Separate from the budget, another $6.8 billion is required for in-country delivery of vaccines and diagnostics.