Trending

WHO chief tells American officials $23.4 billion urgently needed to end ‘horrific’ vaccine inequity around the world and get tests and treatments everywhere

The Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator (ACT Accelerator or ACT-A), is a framework for collaboration, not an organization or decision-making body, to accelerate the development, production and equitable access to COVID-19 diagnostics, therapeutics and vaccines.

The World Health Organization (WHO) Director General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told American officials on Monday that at least $23.4 billion was urgently needed over the next 12 months to end ‘horrific’ vaccine inequity and get tests and treatments everywhere in the world, noting that although more than 8 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been administered globally, the largest vaccination campaign in history, the “incredible achievement has been marred by horrific inequity.

“It’s therefore essential that countries fully fund the ACT Accelerator, which needs US$23.4 billion over the next 12 months to get tests, treatments and vaccines to where they are needed most,” Dr. Ghebreyesus said in remarks at the USAID Development Ministerial on COVID-19. “The ACT Accelerator is currently out of cash, especially to buy tests, oxygen, PPE, and to fund vaccine delivery.”

Former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power 
Former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power

The Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator (ACT Accelerator or ACT-A), is a framework for collaboration, not an organization or decision-making body, set up to accelerate the development, production and equitable access to COVID-19 diagnostics, therapeutics and vaccines.

It was established in response to a call from G20 leaders in March 2020 and launched by the WHO, European Commission, France and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in April 2020.

The cross-discipline support structure, to enable partners to share resources and knowledge, comprises four pillars, each managed two to three collaborating partners.

The four pillars are Vaccines (also called COVAX), diagnostics, therapeutics and health system connector.

So far, COVAX is the most well known of the four pillars because it involves vaccines and it’s often in the news when vaccines are donated to countries or when new variants of the coronavirus emerge in parts of the world with less vaccination levels.

Dr Seth Berkley 
Dr Seth Berkley

In his remarks on Monday, Dr. Ghebreyesus recalled that ACT Accelerator and COVAX were created last year “because we knew from our experience with many other diseases that market forces alone would not lead to equitable access.”

“High-income countries ordering many times more doses than they needed, combined with export bans, starved COVAX and AVAT of supply,” he explained. “But we have shown that COVAX and AVAT work, when they have access to vaccines.”

He said COVAX has now shipped more than 600 million doses to 144 countries and territories, more than 80% of those doses have gone to low- and lower-middle income countries, noting that as supply increases, COVAX is picking up speed.

In the last two months alone, COVAX shipped more doses than in the first 8 months of this year combined. All but two low and lower-middle income countries have now started to roll out vaccines.

“And in the coming months, we expect supply to continue increasing,” Dr. Ghebreyesus said.

Despite the achievements, countries will need increased support to scale up capacity for widespread vaccination, the WHO chief said, adding that “To do that, WHO and UNICEF, in partnership with Gavi, are appointing Mr Ted Chaiban, an experienced humanitarian leader, as global coordinator for country readiness and delivery, to lead an enhanced joint effort to turn vaccines into vaccinations faster.”

The new effort will be focused on the 40 to 50 countries at highest risk of missing the target to vaccinate 40% of their populations by the end of this year.

“For this to work we need high-income countries and development banks to finance WHO, UNICEF and Gavi and countries themselves. At the same time, the increase in quantity of supply must be matched by an increase in quality of supply,” he said, noting that “too often, countries receive unexpected deliveries of doses close to expiry, with far too little transparency of when doses will arrive, what product will arrive, or how much will arrive.”

Dr. Rochelle Walensky 
Environmental Portrait Dr. Rochelle Walensky

According to him, More than two-thirds of donations are of vaccines with less than three months’ shelf-life remaining, which “hampers countries’ ability to plan, to deploy domestic resources, and to mobilize populations and community leaders.”

“Yes, we need accountability for how doses are used; but we also need accountability for how doses are donated. And we must all remember that vaccines alone will not end the pandemic.”

The WHO chief noted that the emergence of Omicron highlights the need to scale up equitable access to testing and sequencing, as well as to oxygen and new antivirals.

President Joe Biden delivers remarks on the FDA giving full approval to the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine, Monday, Aug. 23, 2021, in the South Court Auditorium in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building at the White House. (Official White House Photo by Adam Schultz) 
President Joe Biden delivers remarks on the FDA giving full approval to the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine, Monday, Aug. 23, 2021, in the South Court Auditorium in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building at the White House. (Official White House Photo by Adam Schultz)
Chief White House Correspondent for

Simon Ateba is Chief White House Correspondent for Today News Africa. Simon covers President Joe Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris, the U.S. government, the United Nations, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and other financial and international institutions in Washington D.C. and New York City.

Show More
error: Alert: Share This Content !!
Tweet
Reddit
Share
Share

Adblock Detected

Please consider supporting us by disabling your ad blocker