By Haruna Gimba
The World Health Organisation (WHO) said the Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT-Accelerator) partnership need over $16 billion to fill the gap out of the total $15.1 billion total funding committed.
WHO Director-General, Dr. Tedros Ghebreyesus, said this at the just concluded G7 Summit at Cornwall, United Kingdom.
ACT- Accelerator is the proven, up-and-running global collaboration to accelerate the development, production, and equitable access to COVID-19 tests, treatments, and vaccines.
It was set up in response to a call from G20 leaders in March and launched by WHO, the European Commission, France and The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in April 2020.
In a statement on WHO’s website, the director-general thanked the G7 nations for their commitment to sharing at least 870 million vaccine doses to low and low-middle-income countries over the next year.
Ghebreyesus appealed for more support to fill the gap in COVID-19 vaccine distribution and said many other countries were now facing a surge in cases without vaccines.
“Over 16 billion dollars is still needed in 2021 to fully fund the work of ACT-Accelerator, the global partnership of leading international health organisations which is mid-way through its 2020-21 funding need,” he said.
According to him, G7 leaders emphasised the importance of all ACT-Accelerator to exit the pandemic.
“ACT-Accelerator’s funding gap remains significant with an urgent need for funding of tests, treatments and health systems to ensure an end to the pandemic everywhere,” he added.
Ghebreyesus, therefore, warned of increasing divide in equity to crucial COVID-19 tools.
He said in addition to vital vaccine research and development and procurement work, ACT-Accelerator needed funds to strengthen health systems and protect health workers administering the tools needed.
He said: “It needs funds to test, detect and contain hotspots, as well as identify new variants that will continue to appear; and treatments to save the lives of those who will continue to catch COVID-19 and suffer.
“There is an urgent need for treatments like oxygen which is seeing a surge in demand that is five times – and in cases such as India, 10 times – greater than the need before the pandemic.
“The funding needed for the ACT-Accelerator will address challenges in delivering products where they are most needed, help establish testing for 500 million people in low and middle-income countries by mid-2021.
“Fund is needed also to help secure the necessary supply of oxygen as well as distribute 165 million doses of treatments, including dexamethasone which can save lives of people critically ill with COVID,’’ he said.
At the close of the 2021 G7 Leaders’ summit on Sunday, UK Prime Minister, Boris Johnson announced a donation of additional 870 million vaccine doses from attendees.
The majority of the doses will be delivered through COVAX, the vaccines pillar of the Access to COVID 19 Tools Accelerator, within the next year.
Attendees included heads of G7 member states plus Australia, India, South Africa and the Republic of Korea, invited as guests.
The G7 countries are a group of the world’s seven largest advanced economies namely: the United Kingdom, Germany, Italy, Canada, France, Japan and the United States.
Leaders confirmed their support for all pillars of the ACT-Accelerator across treatments, tests and strengthening public health systems as well as vaccines.
Additionally, they indicated their intention to work together with the private sector, the G20 and other countries to increase vaccine contribution over the months to come.
Since its Early Leaders’ Summit in February 2021, the G7 has committed one billion doses in total.