Plea for COVID funding acceleration

A new report has called for $35 billion of investment to finance the global effort to combat COVID-19 over the next 12 months.

The World Health Organisation has put the figure as the funding requirements for the ACT-Accelerator, currently the only global initiative offering a solution to speed up the end of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Launched on 24 April, it combines public and private sector expertise and institutions from around the world to accelerate the development, regulatory approval, scale-up, delivery and equitable allocation of COVID-19 tests, treatments and vaccines.

“The ACT-Accelerator needs $35 billion to meet the goal of developing new tools and producing and delivering 2 billion vaccine doses, 245 million treatments and 500 million diagnostic tests over the next year,” said the organisation. “With the largest portfolio of COVID-19 tools in the world, investing in the ACT-Accelerator increases the probability of being able to access the ‘winning candidate’ and hedges the risk that countries that have already entered individual bilateral agreements end up with products that are not viable.”

There is a clear economic rationale for the investment explained the WHO, given the ongoing impact the pandemic is having on the global economy and public health.

It added the global economy is expected to contract by $7 trillion in 2020 as a result of the pandemic.  “ACT-Accelerator’s financing gap is $35 billion. Fully financing the ACT-Accelerator to help shorten the duration of the crisis would pay back this investment in less than 36 hours once global mobility and trade are restored.”

The WHO explained the ACT-Accelerator’s total funding needs represent less than 1% of what G20 governments have already committed to domestic economic stimulus packages.

“While many countries have made significant investments in domestic R&D and on domestic economic stimulus packages, these investments will not on their own address severe COVID-19 disease, the root cause of the crisis, and the key to restarting all aspects of their economies,” said the organisation.

It warned a lack of innovation for and sufficient access to effective tests, treatments and vaccines would hold up the recovery for all countries, and urgent action needed to be taken.

It said in the space of five months, the ACT-Accelerator has made significant progress in a range of areas:

  • The Diagnostics pillar is evaluating more than 50 diagnostic tests
  • The Therapeutics pillar is analysing 1,700+ clinical trials for promising treatments and has secured Dexamethasone for up to 4.5 million patients in lower-income countries
  • COVAX vaccine facility – the largest and most varied portfolio of COVID-19 vaccines globally – currently contains 9 vaccine candidates and a total of 156 economies, representing nearly two-thirds of the global population, are now committed to or eligible to receive vaccines through the facility