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Sh3.8tr needed to wipe out virus, says health agency

By Moses Omusolo | September 29th 2020
A volunteer is injected with an experimental Chinese coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine as Turkey began final Phase III trials at Kocaeli University Research Hospital in Kocaeli, Turkey September 25, 2020. [Reuters]

The World Health Organisation (WHO) needs at least Sh3.8 trillion to eradicate Covid-19, the global body has said.

In a special communiqué last Friday, WHO said not investing in a timely intervention would cost the global economy more.  

“The economic rationale for investment is clear: the global economy is expected to contract by Sh759.8 trillion ($7 trillion) in 2020 as a result of the pandemic,” said the organisation in the communiqué.

“The Access to Covid-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator’s financing gap is Sh3.8 trillion ($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.”  

Launched on April 24 this year, the ACT-Accelerator is a Sh1.2 trillion public and private sector initiative, which brings together expertise and institutions from around the world to accelerate the development, regulatory approval, scale-up, delivery and equitable allocation of Covid-19 tests, treatment and vaccines.

Meanwhile, WHO in its appeal further indicated that the ACT-Accelerator total funding needs represent less than one per cent of what G20 governments have already committed to domestic economic stimulus packages.

“While man­­­y countries have made significant investments in domestic research and development 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 WHO.

The agency further warned that a lack of innovation for and sufficient access to effective tests, treatment and vaccines would hold up the recovery for all countries.

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“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.”

WHO noted that the Sh3.8 trillion would help meet the goal of developing new tools and producing and delivering two billion vaccine doses, 245 million treatments and 500 million diagnostic tests over the next year. The funding call comes when the ACT-Accelerator is celebrating some significant milestones just five months after it came into being.

“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,” said the agency.

The world health body also noted that partners have made significant progress on vaccine development.

“COVAX vaccine facility – the largest and most varied portfolio of Covid-19 vaccines globally – currently contains nine 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,” said WHO.     

It also said it plans to use the upcoming United Nations General Assembly slated for September 30 to raise awareness on the work of the ACT-Accelerator.   

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