The World Health Organisation (WHO) needs not less than Sh3.8 trillion to eradicate the COVID-19 pandemic, a new funding appeal has revealed.
In a special communication shared with global media on Friday, WHO said the sacrifice needed is small compared to what world governments have spent or lost while trying to arrest the devastating effects of the virus.
“The economic rationale for investment is clear: The global economy is expected to contract by Sh759.8 trillion (USD7 trillion) in 2020 as a result of the pandemic. ACT-Accelerator’s financing gap is Sh3.8 trillion (USD35 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,” noted the communique.
Launched on April 24, this year, the Access to COVID-19 tools (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, treatments and vaccines.
Meanwhile, WHO in its appeal further indicated that the ACT-Accelerator total funding needs represent less than 1 per cent of what G20 governments have already committed to domestic economic stimulus packages.
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“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,” it added.
Moreover, the statement warned that a lack of innovation for and sufficient access to effective tests, treatments and vaccines would hold up the recovery for all countries.
“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 hub needs the Sh3.8 trillion 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.
The funding call comes when the ACT-Accelerator is celebrating some significant milestones just 5 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 where a number of them are
“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,” it said.
In the process, WHO 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 and highlight the financial commitments needed.
Data from WHO partners shows the ACT-Accelerator operates on two pillars where the “Diagnostics Partnership” requires at least Sh600 billion to achieve its objectives.
“USD1.8 million [Sh200 billion] of this is required immediately to expedite development, manufacturing and scale-up of the rapid tests that will enable mass testing to be introduced globally – as well as procurement of tests to fill critical short-term gaps in low-income countries,” notes the Global Fund
The hub’s “Therapeutics Partnership” on the other hand requires not less than Sh1 trillion to achieve its short term objectives.