WHO’s global tool to fight COVID-19 gathers steam, welcomes nearly $1B in funds

WHO's global tool to fight COVID-19 gathers steam, welcomes nearly $1B in funds - We The World
Photo by Mufid Majnun on Unsplash

In a joint media statement, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations (UN) announced nearly $1 billion funding committed to the development of its global and the world’s most comprehensive tool to fight the deadly COVID-19.

A diverse array of governments, civil societies, international organizations, private sectors, in a show of solidarity has collectively contributed to the ACT or Access to COVID-19 Tools.

Formed by a partnership between the UN, WHO, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, European Commission and France, the ACT seeks to garnar $35 billion to produce 2 billion COVID-19 vaccines, 500 million tests and 245 million treatments.

The announcement comes after the ACT made its first breakthrough in fulfilling its mission, by announcing the release of 120 million affordable and high-quality rapid tests for COVID-19 for low- and middle-income countries.

”The ACT-Accelerator—including its COVAX Facility—is the vehicle to get us there,” UN Secretary-General António Guterres told addressing the 75th UN General Assembly, referring to the need for a ‘people’s vaccine’ at an affordable price.

“It is in every country’s national and economic self-interest to work together to massively expand access to tests and treatments, and to support a vaccine as a global public good—a “people’s vaccine” available and affordable for everyone, everywhere,” he said.

WHO says, urgently the ACT needs $15 billion funds to strengthen and vitalize the research, production, and delivery capacity of a COVID-19 vaccine.

The UK committed to contributing upto £571m (approximately US$ 732m) for COVAX, including £500m for the Gavi Advanced Market Commitment for COVID-19 (COVAX AMC) vaccines.

In the same way, Canada, Sweden, and Germany have also committed to COVAX AMC of CAD$ 220 million, US$ 10 million, and Euro 100 million respectively.

The ACT was launched in April in response to calls from G20 leaders and has since then gathered significant steam from different powerful governments and public health entities and organizations from around the world.

The UN and WHO have stressed the possibility of ‘vaccinationalism’ where wealthy and powerful nations hoard the live-saving vaccines for their interest and profit, which can bear devastating results in managing an airborne pandemic.

The ACT was built on the foundation of four principals: diagnostics, therapeutics, vaccines, and health system strengthening and is not new decision-making or governing body.

All the four pillars are mandated and led by different organizations working in respective fields like World Bank, Global Funds, Unitaid, Gavi, WHO, and Welcome Trust.

16 pharmaceutical companies and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation have also reportedly signed an agreement to cooperate on manufacturing the targeted number of COVID-19 vaccine, scale-up production, and ensure equal and fair distribution ASAP.

“A number of countries, most recently the United Kingdom and Canada, are good models for what other wealthy nations should do. They have donated enough money for COVAX, the vaccine pillar of the ACT-Accelerator, to procure, probably, hundreds of millions of vaccine doses for poor countries. But more will be needed and I hope wealthy nations will continue to be generous,” Microsoft and Gates Foundation co-founder Bill Gates said.

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