A World Health Organization-led coalition fighting the COVID-19 pandemic is asking government and private-sector donors to help raise US$31.3-billion in the next 12 months to develop and deliver tests, treatments and vaccines for the disease.
Renewing its call on Friday for global collaboration against the pandemic, it said US$3.4-billion had been contributed for the coalition to date, leaving a funding gap of US$27.9-billion. Of that, US$13.7-billion was “urgently needed.”
The WHO is working with a large coalition of drug-development, funding and distribution organizations under what it calls the ACT-Accelerator Hub.
The initiative is intended to develop and deliver 500 million COVID-19 tests and 245 million courses of new treatment for the disease to low- and middle-income countries by mid-2021, it said in a statement. It is also hoping two billion vaccines doses, including one billion to be bought by low- and middle-income countries, will be available by the end of 2021.
The ACT-Accelerator was launched in April to speed up research and development work on medical tools to tackle COVID-19. On Friday, the WHO said the pandemic was still threatening millions of lives and scores of economies, and urgent work and funds were needed.
“The investment required is significant, but it pales in significance when compared to the cost of COVID-19,” it said. “The total cost of the ACT-Accelerator’s work is less than a tenth of what the IMF [International Monetary Fund] estimates the global economy is losing every month due to the pandemic.”
COVID-19 had killed nearly 500,000 people as of Friday and the race to find a vaccine has accelerated. Governments around the world have rushed to agree to advance purchases of promising coronavirus immunization treatments.
That has raised concerns about the equitable distribution of and access to supplies of COVID-19 vaccines, tests and treatments, particularly for lower- and middle-income countries.
WHO chief scientist Soumya Swaminathan said the program had had “really very constructive” engagement with companies about the involvement of the private sector.
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