Accelerating the development of and equitable access to vaccines, diagnostics and therapeutics for COVID-19 has been a priority for WHO since the beginning of the pandemic.
“Already, we have made remarkable progress,” WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said at a media briefing last week (10 September). “Around 180 vaccines are now in development, including 35 that are in human trials. No disease in history has seen such rapid development in research.”
“Now, the world’s ambition to develop these tools as fast as possible must be matched by its ambition to ensure as many people as possible have access to them.” In April, together with the European Commission and multiple other partners, WHO launched the Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator, to catalyse the development of and equitable access to vaccines, diagnostics and therapeutics.
The Access to COVID-19 Tools ACT-Accelerator is a 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 the WHO, European Commission, France and The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in April 2020.
Currently, the ACT Accelerator is supporting research into promising vaccines, therapeutics and diagnostics. But the Accelerator will not be able to deliver on its goals without a significant increase in funding, Dr Tedros warned.
“The 2.7 billion US dollars it has received to date has been generous and has enabled the robust start-up phase. But this is less than 10 percent of the overall needs. The ACT Accelerator still faces a funding gap of 35 billion US dollars.”
He also warned that bilateral vaccine deals and “vaccine nationalism” could compromise equitable access and hold up progress for all countries in bringing the COVID-19 pandemic to an end. “Between now and the end of the year we have a limited window of opportunity to scale-up the ACT Accelerator and fully enable the equitable allocation framework.
At the launch of the Facilitation Council of the ACT Accelerator last week, Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said that the meeting brought the world closer to the global goal of access to vaccines for everyone who needs them. “The EU will use all its convening power to help keep the world united against coronavirus.”
The Brussels Times