Although a landmark global collaboration has developed and delivered COVID-19 vaccines and diagnostics worldwide, critical funding shortfalls remain, the World Health Organization (WHO) said in a report published on Friday.
“One year after the launch of the ACT Accelerator, world leaders face a choice: invest in saving lives by treating the cause of the pandemic everywhere, now, or continue to spend trillions on the consequences with no end in sight”, said WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.
“With a remaining funding gap of $19 billion for 2021 and limited supply of products, we can only end the pandemic by funding, sharing, and scaling-up access to the tools we need to fight the disease. The time to ACT is now.”
Rapid scientific progress
The ACT-Accelerator brings together governments, global health organizations, scientists, the pharmaceutical industry and other key partners, to develop and deliver the tests, treatments and vaccines the world needs to fight COVID-19.
As of Friday, there were more than 144 million cases worldwide, and over three million deaths.
A year ago, global understanding about the new disease was limited, and neither rapid diagnostic testing nor vaccines existed. The ACT-Accelerator has led to rapid scientific progress, and unprecedented global collaboration, in making these tools available to anyone, anywhere, who needs them.
Saving lives, giving hope
“The ACT-Accelerator has been a critical multilateral instrument in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic”, the UN Deputy Secretary-General, Amina Mohammed, said in a video message.
“It is saving lives. It is enabling societies and economies to begin the job of recovery. It is giving us hope.”
Millions of treatment courses and diagnostic kits for low and middle-income countries, as well as $50 million in personal protective equipment (PPE), have been secured through the mechanism.
Its vaccine pillar, COVAX, began deliveries to developing nations in February, starting with Ghana, and has since shipped more than 40 million doses to nearly 120 countries. Additionally, it has supplied $50 million in personal protective equipment (PPE)
Progress at risk
But WHO said COVID-19 continues to spread, and new variants emerge, because progress on equitable distribution of these tools has not been fast enough.
Warning that “vaccine nationalism” is slowing down vaccine deliveries to the world’s poorest and most vulnerable, Ms. Mohammed called for countries to fully fund the ACT-Accelerator.
“Let’s also recognize that a full and truly sustainable recovery also requires us to get on track to reach the Sustainable Development Goals and achieve Universal Health Coverage,” she added.