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COVID-19 Vaccine: A Small Budget Effort Can Be a Big Leap for Humanity

ByMicheal Johnson

Oct 2, 2020

He General secretary The United Nations said on Wednesday that the initiative promoted by World Health Organization and other partners contains the largest portfolio of vaccines in the most advanced stages of testing and provides the only way to safely and reliably reopen the global economy as quickly as possible.

The Accelerator for access to tools against COVID-19 – a global initiative charged with accelerating the development, production and equitable access to diagnostic tests, treatments and vaccines for the disease – needs a qualitative leap and, despite to the 3,000 million dollars already received, it requires an immediate injection of 15,000 million more.

During a high-level event entitled “Accelerating the end of the COVID-19 pandemic,” the Secretary General, António Guterres, highlighted that the 3 billion dollars received so far for the Accelerator were essential for its implementation, but that 35,000 million more are needed to “expand and guarantee its maximum impact”, and that “should start with an immediate contribution of 15,000 million.”

“These resources are crucial to not lose the opportunity to buy and produce in advance, to create reserves in parallel with licensing, to boost research and to help countries prepare to optimize new vaccines when they arrive,” he said. .

Guterres considered that a delay in access to the vaccine cannot be allowed to further widen the enormous current inequalities.

“But let’s be clear: we will not achieve this with donors who limit themselves to allocating resources from Official Development Assistance budgets. We have to think big. The time has come for countries to draw funds from their own response and recovery programs. By helping others, they will help themselves ”, he stressed.

The UN head pointed out that investing in the Accelerator will speed up the recovery of each country and that, if the world can spend many billions on the socio-economic response to the crisis, -375,000 million a month and 500 million jobs- You can certainly invest a small fraction of that amount to stop the spread of the disease.

“I urge all countries and partners to take an important step in the next three months to provide much-needed additional resources and to mobilize all partners and put them at the service of a global response,” Guterres concluded.

One billion dollars for hope

At the end of the event, the result of the funds promised to finance the Accelerator was announced. Governments, the private sector, civil society and international organizations pledged to donate close to $ 1 billion.

The biggest donor and one of the co-sponsors of the event was the United Kingdom, which promised to contribute some 732 million dollars to the COVAX mechanism Of the accelerator. Of that amount, up to $ 641 million will go to support low- and middle-income countries.

The private sector was joined by a coalition of 16 pharmaceutical companies and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation that signed an agreement to cooperate in the manufacture of vaccines and expand their production at record speed ensuring that, once approved, they are accessible in the form more widespread and distributed as soon as possible.

Continuing rapidly evolving initiatives, World Bank President David Malpass announced during the event that he has proposed to his Board “to make available to countries up to $ 12 billion of fast-track financing for purchasing and deployment of COVID-19 vaccines once they have been approved by various respected and strict regulatory bodies ”.

Since its launch five months ago, the Accelerator initiative has achieved:

• Have 120 million high-quality, rapid tests available at affordable prices for low- and middle-income countries.

• Major advances in trials with dexamethasone, the only drug that has made a significant difference in patient mortality.

• The creation of the COVAX Mechanism, a global alliance that seeks to guarantee equitable access to possible COVID-19 vaccines regardless of the income of each country and that covers 168 economies. The coalition has the largest and most diverse vaccine portfolio in the world, with nine candidates in progress and eight of them in clinical trials.

Financing the Accelerator equals global cigarette consumption for two weeks

The director general of the World Health Organization, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, continued in the same line, who said that now is the time to reach the full power of the Accelerator and recalled again the current budget deficit of the initiative, the 35,000 million dollars previously cited by Guterres.

“That is less than 1% of what the G-20 governments have already committed for domestic stimulus packages. In other words, roughly equivalent to what the world spends on cigarettes every two weeks”, He emphasized.

Tedros explained that the Accelerator funding in its entirety will help to control the pandemic, restore confidence and stimulate the global recovery.

“Frankly, this is not a financial challenge, it is a test of solidarity. This is a time to say: No to nationalism and yes to a shared humanity, because ultimately the Accelerator does not only serve for the delivery of vaccines, diagnostics and therapies, it provides something much more important: hope. Let’s act now, let’s act together to stop this pandemic ”, he concluded.

Three reasons to fund the Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator

The Secretary General stressed that supporting the Accelerator is in the common interest of all countries and that it will serve to achieve a “popular vaccine” that is available and affordable for all people, anywhere.

Guterres cited three points to reinforce his argument:

  • The accelerator It is the only global mechanism that has the full range of partners and tools to defeat the pandemic– tests, treatments, and the world’s largest vaccine portfolio in the most advanced stages of testing.
  • Offers the only way to reopen the world economy as quickly as possible safely and reliably. A national vaccination effort in a handful of countries will not open the doors to the global economy or restore livelihoods.
  • The price of the vaccine. With so many countries integrated into the project, the Accelerator can leverage its huge market and bargaining power to secure the lowest prices for effective vaccines and rapid diagnostics, as well as ensuring equitable access for all who need it.

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