UN welcomes nearly $1 billion in recent pledges - to bolster access to lifesaving tests, treatments and vaccines to end COVID-19
New commitments from governments, international organizations and the private sector support unified approach to end pandemic, backing a response of unprecedented scale, scope and speed—through the Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator—as pandemic claims more than 1 million livesRecent Commitments at a Glance:
- United Kingdom – £571m (US$ 732m) for COVAX pillar of the Access to COVID-19 Tools- (ACT) Accelerator, of which up to £500m (US$ 641m) is to support low- and middle-income countries. This includes a commitment to match £1 for every US$ 4 committed by others up to £250m (US$ 321m).
- Canada - CAD 440m (US$ 332m) for the COVAX pillar of the ACT-Accelerator, of which CAD 220 (US$ 166m) is to support low & middle income countries
- Germany - EUR 100m (US$ 117m) for the COVAX pillar of the ACT-Accelerator, all of which is to support low and middle income countries
- Sweden - US$ 10m for the COVAX pillar of the ACT-Accelerator, all of which is to support low and middle income countries
- World Bank – US$ 12 billion to support developing countries to purchase COVID-19 vaccines as soon as they are available (to be ratified by their shareholders)
- A coalition of 16 pharmaceutical companies and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation signed an agreement to cooperate on vaccine manufacturing and to scale up production
The United Nations and its partners today welcomed a monumental show of solidarity as governments, private sector, civil society and international organizations committed support to the Access to COVID-19 Tools- (ACT) Accelerator initiative launched by the World Health Organization alongside international partners.
Today, nearly US$1 billion in new financing has been committed to the initiative - the world’s most comprehensive multilateral end-to-end solution to the devastating COVID-19 pandemic.
The ACT-Accelerator, which was co-launched by the World Health Organization, European Commission, France and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation just five months ago, needs an additional US$35 billion to realize its goals of producing 2 billion vaccine doses, 245 million treatments and 500 million tests. The new commitments to the initiative are welcome and will be leveraged to catalyze further funding to continue the ACT-Accelerator’s groundbreaking work.
Most urgently, the ACT-Accelerator requires US$15 billion to support immediate capacity-building—for research and development, manufacturing, procurement and delivery systems—by the end of the year.
Convening a high-level event at the 75th Session of the UN General Assembly to urgently mobilize support for the ACT-Accelerator, Secretary-General António Guterres commended on the “extraordinary international effort to address a human crisis like no other in our lifetimes,” adding that more efforts must be made to further “deepen” the remarkable progress so far.
“It is in every country’s national and economic self-interest to work together to massively expand access to tests and treatments, and to support a vaccine as a global public good—a “people’s vaccine” available and affordable for everyone, everywhere.”
”The ACT-Accelerator—including its COVAX Facility—is the vehicle to get us there. Investing in the ACT-Accelerator will accelerate every country’s own recovery,” said Mr. Guterres who co-hosted the event with the United Kingdom’s Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, South Africa’s Health Minister Zweli Mkhize, and the Director-General of World Health Organization, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.Unprecedented Global Collaboration
The ACT-Accelerator, which was launched just five months ago, is an unprecedented global collaboration of the world’s top international health organizations working together to accelerate the development, production, and equitable delivery of COVID-19 tests, treatments, and vaccines.
“We have a duty to ensure vaccines, treatments and tests for COVID-19 are available to all—stopping the global spread of the pandemic protects the British people and will put humanity on the road to recovery. Collaboration through the ACT-Accelerator is critical to promoting development, production and access for all countries,” said UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab.
The United Kingdom recently committed up to £571m (approximately US$ 732m) for COVAX. This includes up to £500m for the Gavi Advanced Market Commitment for COVID-19 (COVAX AMC) vaccines—a financing instrument that incentivises vaccine manufacturers to produce sufficient COVID-19 vaccines to ensure access for developing countries.
Today, the UK Foreign Secretary called for more support, pledging that this £500m commitment would include £1 (IS$ 1.29) in matched funding for every US$4 committed by others for up to £250m (approximately US$ 321m).
Germany, Canada and Sweden have also made new commitments to the COVAX AMC of Euro 100 million, CAD$ 220 million and US$ 10 million respectively. These are eligible for matching with today’s UK matching commitment.
”Science is giving us solutions, in the form of new tests, therapeutics and—hopefully—a vaccine. But science and solutions will be ineffective without solidarity,” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General.
“I am grateful for the generous financial commitments made today, but we still have a significant funding gap to close. Fully financing the ACT Accelerator will help to control the pandemic, restore confidence and stimulate the global recovery. Frankly, this is not a financial challenge, it’s a test of solidarity. This is a moment for saying no to nationalism and yes to our shared humanity. Because ultimately, the ACT Accelerator is not delivering merely vaccines, diagnostics and therapeutics. It’s delivering something far more important—hope.”
“We must confront this health crisis as a global challenge, together in solidarity and cooperation with one another, working toward a global solution. We have to generate the key tests, treatments and vaccines that we all need, and make sure they are distributed equitably to people who most need them, regardless of where they live and whether their country is wealthy or not,” said South Africa’s Health Minister Zweli Mkhize, adding that large parts of the population especially in developing countries remain “vulnerable and marginalized during this pandemic.”
Today’s event highlighted the substantial results achieved by the Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator initiative since its launch: the availability of 120 million affordable and high-quality rapid tests for low- and middle-income countries; a breakthrough in trials with, and a rapid rollout of, Dexamethasone—the only drug found to make a significant difference to patient mortality; the creation of the COVAX Facility – the global mechanism to ensure equitable access to eventual COVID-19 vaccines regardless of income -comprising 168 economies and the largest and most diverse vaccine portfolio in the world, with nine candidate vaccines under evaluation, eight of them in clinical trials.
In another significant show of support, a coalition of 16 pharmaceutical companies and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation signed an agreement to cooperate on vaccine manufacturing and to scale up production at an unprecedented speed, ensuring that approved vaccines are more broadly accessible and distributed as early as possible.
Bill Gates, Co-Chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation said “One thing I've learned studying the history of pandemics is that they create a surprising dynamic when it comes to self-interest and altruism. Pandemics are rare cases where a country’s instinct to help itself is tightly aligned with its instinct to help others. The self-interested thing and the altruistic thing–making sure poor nations have access to vaccines–are one and the same.”
“A number of countries, most recently the United Kingdom and Canada, are good models for what other wealthy nations should do. They have donated enough money for COVAX, the vaccine pillar of the ACT-Accelerator, to procure, probably, hundreds of millions of vaccine doses for poor countries. But more will be needed and I hope wealthy nations will continue to be generous.”
The World Bank unveiled plans this week for a significant financial commitment to support developing countries to purchase COVID-19 vaccines as soon as they are available.
World Bank President David Malpass said that once the plans are ratified by stakeholders, “having up to US$ 12 billion available in finance will be a game changer because once a safe and effective vaccine is available, it will allow people to resume their lives with confidence.”
The ACT-Accelerator Investment Case illustrates the considerable economic benefits of collectively accelerating the development and deployment of tools to rapidly reduce the risk of severe COVID-19 disease globally. Prior to UNGA 2020, the ACT-Accelerator has raised US$3 billion out of a need of US$38 billion. More detail can be found in the Act-Accelerator investment case.
The economic rationale for investing in an approach that can accelerate the end of the COVID-19 crisis remains clear. Fully financing the initiative to help shorten the duration of the crisis would pay back this investment in less than 36 hours once global mobility and trade alone are restored.Notes to Editors
The Access to COVID-19 Tools ACT-Accelerator, is the proven, up-and-running 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.
The ACT-Accelerator is not a decision-making body or a new organization, it works to speed up collaborative efforts among existing organizations to end the pandemic. It is a framework for collaboration that has been designed to bring key players around the table with the goal of ending the pandemic as quickly as possible through the accelerated development, equitable allocation, and scaled up delivery of tests, treatments and vaccines, thereby protecting health systems and restoring societies and economies in the near term.
It draws on the experience of leading global health organizations which are tackling the world’s toughest health challenges, and who, by working together, are able to unlock new and more ambitious results against COVID-19. Its members share a commitment to ensure all people have access to all the tools needed to defeat COVID-19 and to work with unprecedented levels of partnership to achieve it.
The ACT-Accelerator comprises four pillars: diagnostics, therapeutics, vaccines and health system strengthening.
The diagnostics pillar, co-convened by the Global Fund and FIND, is focused on bringing to market 2–3 high-quality rapid tests, training 10 000 healthcare professionals across 50 countries and establishing testing for 500 million people in Low and Middle-Income countries by mid-2021.
The therapeutics pillar is led by Unitaid and The Wellcome Trust. Therapeutics can play a role in all stages of COVID-19 disease: to prevent infection; suppress symptoms and spread of infection to others; treat or prevent symptoms; as a life-saving treatment for severe symptoms; and as a treatment that can speed up recovery. The aim in the next 12 months is to develop, manufacture and distribute 245 million treatments, helping COVID-19 sufferers to recover from the disease.
The vaccines pillar, convened by CEPI, Gavi and WHO, is speeding up the search for an effective vaccine for all countries. At the same time, it is supporting the building of manufacturing capabilities, and buying supply, ahead of time so that 2 billion doses can be fairly distributed by the end of 2021.
The health systems connector pillar, led by the World Bank and the Global Fund, is working to ensure that these tools can reach the people who need them.
Cross cutting all of these is the workstream on Access & Allocation, hosted by the World Health Organization.
WHO ACT-Accelerator Website: who.int/initiatives/act-accelerator
Status Report & Plan: bit.ly/ACTAcceleratorStatusReport
Economic Investment Case: bit.ly/ACTAcceleratorInvestmentCase
UN COVID-19 Response Portal: un.org/en/coronavirus
Archived video of the event is available on UN Web TV
Interim Guidance for Case Investigation and Contact Tracing in Institutions of Higher Education (IHEs)
WHO to investigate allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse in Ebola response in the Democratic Republic of the Congo
The World Health Organization, leadership and staff, are outraged by recent reports of alleged sexual exploitation and abuse in the context of the Ebola response in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).
The actions allegedly perpetrated by individuals identifying themselves as working for WHO are unacceptable and will be robustly investigated.
The betrayal of people in the communities we serve is reprehensible. We do not tolerate such behaviour in any of our staff, contractors or partners.
Anyone identified as being involved will be held to account and face serious consequences, including immediate dismissal.
The Director-General has initiated a thorough review of the specific allegations, as well as broader protection issues in health emergency response settings.
WHO has a zero tolerance policy with regard to sexual exploitation and abuse.
The World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF today signed a new collaborative framework which will accelerate joint public health efforts that put the most marginalized and vulnerable populations first.
The new Strategic Collaboration Framework builds on a robust 70-year collaboration between the two organizations, and prioritizes four strategic areas for immediate attention and action at all levels of the organizations: universal health coverage, through a primary health care and health systems approach; mental health and psychosocial wellbeing and development; public health emergencies; and maternal and child nutrition.
Additionally, the two organizations signed a new Joint Programme on Mental Health and Psychosocial Well-being and Development of Children and Adolescents. This 10-year collaborative effort will promote mental health and psychosocial well-being and development, increase access to care for mental health conditions, reduce suffering and enhance quality of life among children and adolescents, and their caregivers
Both organizations are particularly concerned about the urgent need to better tackle issues affecting adolescents. Depression is is one of the leading causes of illness and disability among adolescents, and suicide is the second leading cause of death in adolescents.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed huge gaps in accessing health, well-being and nutrition services among children and vulnerable populations,” said Henrietta Fore, UNICEF Executive Director. “There has never been a more urgent need to work together. This new framework will help us strengthen health and food systems, and invest in mental health and psychosocial support in every country in the world.”
For more than 70 years, WHO and UNICEF have worked together worldwide to ensure children survive and thrive, and benefit from a safe and clean environment. The two organizations collaborated to provide high-impact health, immunization, nutrition, HIV and early child development interventions, as well as safe water and sanitation services in every region of the world, including in fragile and conflict settings.
"At the heart of our work with UNICEF is seeing that every child not only survives but ultimately thrives and transforms their communities and future generations," said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General. "With great appreciation and respect for our unique and complementary roles, we stand together in our commitment to achieve health for all. As this pandemic demonstrates, no-one is safe until everyone is safe.”
Today, WHO and UNICEF continue to work together to stop the COVID-19 pandemic and ensure that every woman and every child have access to the essential health services they need, including immunizations and health check-ups.
The two organizations are also working together to support countries to introduce and deliver COVID-19 vaccines under the vaccines pillar of the “Access to COVID-19 Tools – Accelerator” (ACT-A) initiative, along with Gavi, CEPI and global immunization partners.
Additionally, the organizations are strengthening health systems through primary health care, as agreed in the Declaration of Astana, and the UN High-level declaration on UHC, in order to accelerate achievement of universal health coverage and Sustainable Development Goal 3 targets by 2030.
The World Health Organization
The World Health Organization provides global leadership in public health within the United Nations system. Founded in 1948, WHO works with 194 Member States, across six regions and from more than 150 offices, to promote health, keep the world safe and serve the vulnerable. Our goal for 2019-2023 is to ensure that a billion more people have universal health coverage, to protect a billion more people from health emergencies, and provide a further billion people with better health and wellbeing.
UNICEF works in some of the world’s toughest places, to reach the world’s most disadvantaged children. Across 190 countries and territories, we work for every child, everywhere, to build a better world for everyone. For more information about UNICEF and its work for children, visit www.unicef.org. For more information about COVID-19, visit www.unicef.org/coronavirus. Follow UNICEF on Twitter and Facebook.
- 64 higher income economies have now joined the COVAX Facility, with a further 38 economies expected to sign in the coming days
- These self-financing economies, which include 29 from ‘Team Europe’ participating as part of an agreement with the European Commission, join 92 lower income economies eligible for financial support through the Gavi COVAX Advance Market Commitment
- This means 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 Click here for the list of economies
64 higher income economies have joined the COVAX Facility, a global initiative that brings together governments and manufacturers to ensure eventual COVID-19 vaccines reach those in greatest need, whoever they are and wherever they live. These 64 economies include commitments from 35 economies as well as the European Commission which will procure doses on behalf of 27 EU member states plus Norway and Iceland.
By pooling financial and scientific resources, these participating economies will be able to insure themselves against the failure of any individual vaccine candidate and secure successful vaccines in a cost-effective, targeted way.
The 64 members of the Facility will be joined by 92 low- and middle-income economies eligible for support for the procurement of vaccines through the Gavi COVAX Advance Market Commitment (AMC), a financing instrument aimed at supporting the procurement
of vaccines for these countries. This means that 156 economies, representing roughly 64% of the global population in total, are now either committed to or eligible for the COVAX Facility, with more to follow.
With the Commitment Agreements secured, the COVAX Facility will now start signing formal agreements with vaccine manufacturers and developers, which are partners in the COVAX effort, to secure the doses needed to end the acute phase of the pandemic by
the end of 2021. This is in addition to an ongoing effort to raise funding for both R&D and for the procurement of vaccines for lower-income countries via the Gavi COVAX AMC.
“COVAX is now in business: governments from every continent have chosen to work together, not only to secure vaccines for their own populations, but also to help ensure that vaccines are available to the most vulnerable everywhere,” said Dr
Seth Berkley, CEO of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, which is coordinating the COVAX Facility. “With the commitments we’re announcing today for the COVAX Facility, as well as the historic partnership we are forging with industry, we now stand
a far better chance of ending the acute phase of this pandemic once safe, effective vaccines become available.”
The COVAX Facility is part of COVAX, the vaccines pillar of the Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator, which is co-led by the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, and the World Health Organization (WHO) – working in partnership with developed and developing country vaccine manufacturers, UNICEF, the World Bank, Civil Society Organisations and others.
The allocation of vaccines, once licensed and approved, will be guided by an Allocation Framework released today by WHO following the principle of fair and equitable access, ensuring no participating economy will be left behind. Policies determining the prioritization of vaccine rollout within economies will be guided by recommendations from the WHO Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on Immunization (SAGE), which has recently released a Values Framework laying the groundwork for subsequent guidance on target populations and policies on vaccine use.
“COVID-19 is an unprecedented global crisis that demands an unprecedented global response,” said WHO Director-General, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. “Vaccine nationalism will only perpetuate the disease and prolong the global recovery.
Working together through the COVAX Facility is not charity, it’s in every country’s own best interests to control the pandemic and accelerate the global economic recovery.”
The commitment of fully self-financing economies will now unlock vital funding and the security of demand needed to scale up manufacturing and secure the doses needed for the Facility. CEPI is leading COVAX vaccine research and development work, which
aims to develop at least three safe and effective vaccines which can be made available to economies participating in the COVAX Facility. Nine candidate vaccines are currently being supported by CEPI; eight of which are currently in clinical trials.
“This is a landmark moment in the history of public health with the international community coming together to tackle this pandemic. The global spread of COVID-19 means that it is only through equitable and simultaneous access to new lifesaving
COVID-19 vaccines that we can hope to end this pandemic”, said Dr Richard Hatchett, CEO of CEPI. “Countries coming together in this way shows a unity of purpose and resolve to end the acute phase of this pandemic, and we must now work
closely with vaccine manufacturers—who play an integral part in the global response—to put in place the agreements needed to fulfil COVAX’s core aim: to have two billion vaccine doses available by the end of 2021. Today, we have
taken a great leap towards that goal, for the benefit of all.”
The success of COVAX hinges not only on economies signing up to the COVAX Facility and commitments from vaccine manufacturers, but also filling key funding gaps for both COVAX research and development (R&D) work and the Gavi COVAX AMC to support participation
of lower income economies in the COVAX Facility.
Governments, vaccine manufacturers (in addition to their own R&D), organisations and individuals have committed US$ 1.4 billion towards vaccine R&D so far, but a further US$ 700-800 million is urgently needed to continue to move the portfolio
forward in addition to US$ 300 million to fund WHO’s SOLIDARITY trial.
The Gavi COVAX AMC has raised around US$ 700 million from sovereign donors as well as philanthropy and the private sector, against an initial target of US$ 2 billion in seed funding needed by the end of 2020. Funding the Gavi COVAX AMC will be critical
to ensuring ability to pay is not a barrier to accessing COVID-19 vaccines, a situation which would leave the majority of the world unprotected, with the pandemic and its impact continuing unabated.
The Commitment Agreements also commit higher income governments to provide an upfront payment to reserve doses by 9 October 2020. These funds will be used to accelerate the scale-up of vaccine manufacturing to secure two billion doses of vaccine, enough to vaccinate one billion people assuming the vaccine requires a two-dose regimen. Further details on these upfront payments are available in Gavi’s COVAX Facility Explainer.
As well as procuring doses for participating economies, the COVAX Facility will also maintain a buffer of doses for emergency and humanitarian use.
Participating country comments
“COVID-19 poses serious health concerns to people everywhere, and that’s why Canada is committed to working with partners around the world to end the pandemic,” said the Rt. Hon. Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada. “Equitable, timely, and affordable access to a safe and effective COVID vaccine will be critical to help protect people’s health. Canada supports the objectives and principles of the COVAX Facility as the only global pooled procurement mechanism for countries to collaborate on this monumental undertaking. Our country is a part of this important global response.”
“New Zealand’s commitment to the COVAX Facility supports access to vaccines against COVID-19 for other countries too,” said Rt Hon Jacinda Ardern, Prime Minister of New Zealand.
“COVAX and the idea of equal access to a COVID-19 vaccine, regardless of ability to pay, is not just a moral imperative, it is the only practical solution to this pandemic. Protecting everyone is the only way we can return our world – our
trade, tourism, travel, business – to normal,” said the Honourable Dr Edwin G. Dikoloti, Minister of Health and Wellness for Botswana. “We urge those countries who have not yet signed up to do so. Let us work together to protect
“Immunisation saves lives. Investing in immunisation infrastructure helps strengthen health systems. We have seen this time and again through our work with Gavi and Alliance partners,” said Dr Lia Tadesse, Minister of Health for Ethiopia. “By being a part of the COVAX Facility and the AMC we can continue this work and protect our citizens - and the world - against the impact of COVID-19.”
“With COVAX, the world is joining forces and proving that together, we are stronger – and together, we can defeat this pandemic,” said Ekaterine Tikaradze, Minister of Health for Georgia. “Georgia will be joining the COVAX Facility
to give our citizens the best chance at having access to safe vaccines. By doing this, we also make sure health care workers and other high risk persons all over the world have access to these life-saving tools, helping to bring the pandemic under
control – and we can all recover and rebuild.”
“Joining the COVAX Facility was not a difficult decision – not only will this give Kuwaiti citizens access to COVID-19 vaccines as they become available, it will also mean our friends and partners outside our borders also get access,”
said His Excellency Sheikh Dr Basel Humoud Al-Sabah, Minister of Health of the State of Kuwait. “We need a global solution to this global pandemic: we believe COVAX is that solution.”
“We believe international cooperation – a global effort – is key,” said Dag-Inge Ulstein, Minister of International Development for Norway. “We must continue to work for equitable access to vaccines, tests and treatments.
To defeat the coronavirus pandemic, well-off countries need to act swiftly and boldly to make vaccines and treatments available to those who cannot afford to pay themselves. With the commitments to the COVAX facility we are heading in the right direction.”
“This is a hugely important initiative, which could offer us a path out of the acute phase of this pandemic and a return to normality,” said His Excellency Dr Ahmed Mohammed Obaid Al Saidi, Minister of Health of the Sultanate of Oman. “I
would urge every country that has not yet done so to sign up, for all our sakes. It is far better for us to work together than apart.”
“The history of vaccines will be defined by our response to COVID-19; the COVAX facility is at the epicenter of this response. Industry is at the forefront in vaccines development and manufacturing leading to supplies of several billion doses within the next few years”, said Mr. Sai D. Prasad, President of the Developing Countries Vaccine Manufacturers’ Network (DCVMN). “The COVAX facility will have a major impact on lives, livelihoods and accelerate the return to normalcy for countries. The DCVMN is fully engaged with its partners to enhance its mission of global public health and to leave no one behind.”
“It is very encouraging to see so many countries move from talk to full commitment,” said Thomas Cueni, Director General of the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers (IFPMA). “The Facility can only work, and equitable access can only be achieved, if there is solidarity between rich and poorer countries. Today vaccine makers who have the unique skills and expertise to scale up manufacturing to levels never seen before, stand ready, together, to take up the challenge of providing two billion doses of yet unknown COVID-19 vaccines. This is no mean feat, as it requires doubling existing capacity in record time. Today, marks a significant step forward, and is a historic mark of solidarity which has the power to bring the acute phase of this pandemic to an end; and we are proud to be part of this unique endeavour to leave no one behind.”
“Uniting our efforts through COVAX must guarantee fair allocation and equitable delivery of the COVID-19 vaccine to those who need it most, and not just those who can afford it,” said Jagan Chapagain, Secretary-General of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies. “We all have a moral and public health imperative to protect the poor in rural communities as the affluent in cities, the old in care homes as the young in refugee camps. The power of our humanity and the success of COVAX will be measured by how we collectively protect the most vulnerable among us."
"Global cooperation must be the cornerstone of our global response to COVID-19,” said Kevin Watkins, Chief Executive of Save the Children. “The COVAX Facility has the potential to help ensure universal and equitable access to future COVID vaccines. For this to happen, we need to ensure people in low- and middle-income countries get their fair share and can access the vaccines they need to help overcome the biggest public health and child rights crisis of our generation."
“Seeing such unity in the face of the COVID-19 crisis gives us confidence that, together, we can ensure the equitable delivery of COVID vaccines globally,” said Henrietta Fore, UNICEF Executive Director. “With our globe-spanning supply chain and on-the-ground presence across 190 countries, UNICEF is proud to support this historic effort.”
Notes to editors
The full list of fully self-financing economies that have submitted both binding Commitment Agreements and non-binding Confirmations of Intent to Participate, as well as the 92 low- and middle-income countries eligible for the Gavi COVAX AMC, is available here.
About Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance
Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance is a public-private partnership that helps vaccinate half the world’s children against some of the world’s deadliest diseases. Since its inception in 2000, Gavi has helped to immunise a whole generation – over 760 million children – and prevented more than 13 million deaths, helping to halve child mortality in 73 developing countries. Gavi also plays a key role in improving global health security by supporting health systems as well as funding global stockpiles for Ebola, cholera, meningitis and yellow fever vaccines. After two decades of progress, Gavi is now focused on protecting the next generation and reaching the unvaccinated children still being left behind, employing innovative finance and the latest technology – from drones to biometrics – to save millions more lives, prevent outbreaks before they can spread and help countries on the road to self-sufficiency. Learn more at www.gavi.org and connect with us on Facebook and Twitter.
The Vaccine Alliance brings together developing country and donor governments, the World Health Organization, UNICEF, the World Bank, the vaccine industry, technical agencies, civil society, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and other private sector partners. View the full list of donor governments and other leading organizations that fund Gavi’s work here.
CEPI is an innovative partnership between public, private, philanthropic, and civil organisations, launched at Davos in 2017, to develop vaccines to stop future epidemics. CEPI has moved with great urgency and in coordination with WHO in response to the emergence of COVID-19. CEPI has initiated nine partnerships to develop vaccines against the novel coronavirus. The programmes are leveraging rapid response platforms already supported by CEPI as well as new partnerships.
Before the emergence of COVID-19, CEPI’s priority diseases included Ebola virus, Lassa virus, Middle East Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus, Nipah virus, Rift Valley Fever and Chikungunya virus. CEPI also invested in platform technologies that can be used for rapid vaccine and immunoprophylactic development against unknown pathogens (Disease X).
The World Health Organization provides global leadership in public health within the United Nations system. Founded in 1948, WHO works with 194 Member States, across six regions and from more than 150 offices, to promote health, keep the world safe and serve the vulnerable. Our goal for 2019-2023 is to ensure that a billion more people have universal health coverage, to protect a billion more people from health emergencies, and provide a further billion people with better health and wellbeing.
For updates on COVID-19 and public health advice to protect yourself from coronavirus, visit www.who.int and follow WHO on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, TikTok, Pinterest, Snapchat, YouTube
The Access to COVID-19 Tools ACT-Accelerator, is a new, ground-breaking 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.
The ACT-Accelerator is not a decision-making body or a new organisation, but works to speed up collaborative efforts among existing organisations to end the pandemic. It is a framework for collaboration that has been designed to bring key players around the table with the goal of ending the pandemic as quickly as possible through the accelerated development, equitable allocation, and scaled up delivery of tests, treatments and vaccines, thereby protecting health systems and restoring societies and economies in the near term. It draws on the experience of leading global health organisations which are tackling the world’s toughest health challenges, and who, by working together, are able to unlock new and more ambitious results against COVID-19. Its members share a commitment to ensure all people have access to all the tools needed to defeat COVID-19 and to work with unprecedented levels of partnership to achieve it.
The ACT-Accelerator has four areas of work: diagnostics, therapeutics, vaccines and the health system connector. Cross-cutting all of these is the workstream on Access & Allocation. More information on the ACT Accelerator is available here.
Unaffordable prices can be one of the biggest barriers to access to pharmaceutical products. A new WHO guideline for countries on managing pharmaceutical prices aims to help governments overcome this barrier and better address national public health needs.
Pharmaceutical pricing policies need to be carefully planned and carried out, and to be regularly checked and revised according to changing conditions. Strong, well-thought-out policies can guide well-informed and balanced decisions to achieve affordable access to essential health products.
More than 50 independent experts, researchers, external reviewers from a range of stakeholder groups, and WHO staff were involved in assessing and evaluating current scientific evidence and country experiences in order to prepare the guideline.
It covers ten pricing policy approaches:
- External reference pricing, where prices are set by using the benchmark of prices for the same medicines in other comparable countries
- Internal reference pricing, where prices are benchmarked against the price of products with the same medicine or therapeutically similar medicines within the same country
- Value-based pricing, where prices are set after considering how much the medicine is ‘worth’ compared to existing available treatments for the same conditions. This includes assessing factors such as how many years of life a treatment can save, how much a treatment can improve the quality of life of the patient, and if a treatment can save the system resources by avoiding hospitalization or longer-term care
- Regulation of mark-ups across the pharmaceutical supply and distribution chain, where governments set rates for how much suppliers can add to the costs of medicines as they sell the medicine along the supply chain and eventually to patients
- Promoting price transparency to make sure that the prices of medicines and how such prices are set are known to all relevant stakeholders
- Tendering and negotiation, where prices are set according to the best offer from suppliers
- Promoting the use of quality assured generic and biosimilar medicines, to encourage the use of versions of brand-name products that have exactly the same or similar characteristics as the original product
- Pooled procurement, where financial and non-financial resources are pooled to create greater purchasing power and improve efficiency
- Cost-plus pricing, where prices are set by assessing the costs of producing the medicine, plus a profit margin
- Tax exemptions or tax reductions, where taxes on pharmaceutical products are removed or reduced.
The guideline strongly recommends that countries promote the use of quality-assured generic and biosimilar medicines. This includes enabling early market entry of these medicines, using multiple policies to achieve lower prices through greater market competition, and a suite of policies to maximize uptake of these medicines and public confidence.The need for price transparency
Price transparency is essential for designing and implementing sound pricing policies. The guideline suggests countries promote price transparency through a range of mechanisms, including sharing the net transaction prices of pharmaceutical products with relevant stakeholders and along the supply and distribution chain.WHO’s long-standing commitment
WHO has a long-standing commitment to work with countries to ensure essential medicines are more affordable to individual people and to the health system. The WHO Essential Medicines List, updated every two years, has been a global reference for medicines access since 1978, and the Organization’s Prequalification programme has played a critical role in expanding access to quality-assured priority medicines, particularly in the area of HIV/AIDS. In the coming years, WHO will continue to work with countries to develop sound pharmaceutical pricing policies, including by running training workshops with country stakeholders and enabling discussion and information sharing through the Fair Pricing Forum (https://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/handle/10665/335692/9789240011878-eng.pdf).
Global partnership to make available 120 million affordable, quality COVID-19 rapid tests for low- and middle-income countries
- A full access package includes WHO policy guidance on the use of antigen-based rapid diagnostic tests, manufacturer volume guarantees for low and middle-income countries, catalytic funding to assist governments to deploy the tests and an initial US$50 million procurement fund
- Several rapid, point-of-care antigen tests are being assessed by WHO for Emergency Use Listing (EUL)
- Agreements between the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and test manufacturers Abbott and SD Biosensor make available innovative tests priced at a maximum of US$5 for low- and middle-income countries (LMICs)
- The Global Fund commits an initial US$50 million to enable countries to purchase the new tests, with the first orders expected to be placed this week
- Expedited market introduction of these tests in multiple LMICs is being supported through the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC), Unitaid, FIND, CHAI, and their partners
- This is the latest move from the Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator to develop, procure and distribute critical new tools to fight the pandemic; new tests are urgently needed to meet the huge unmet needs for testing worldwide
A set of agreements to make available, for low and middle-income countries, affordable, high-quality COVID-19 antigen rapid tests were today announced by the Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator. Organizations involved in the milestone agreement include the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC), the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI), the Foundation for Innovative New Diagnostics (FIND), the Global Fund, Unitaid, and the World Health Organization (WHO).
As part of this comprehensive, end-to-end effort, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has executed separate volume guarantee agreements with rapid diagnostic test (RDT) producers Abbott and SD Biosensor. These two arrangements will make available to LMICs 120 million antigen rapid diagnostic tests (Ag RDTs) – priced at a maximum of US$5 per unit – over a period of six months. These tests provide results in 15–30 minutes, rather than hours or days, and will enable expansion of testing, particularly in countries that do not have extensive laboratory facilities or trained health workers to implement molecular (polymerase-chain reaction or PCR) tests.
The tests developed by Abbott and SD Biosensor are highly portable, reliable, and easy to administer, making testing possible in near-person, decentralized healthcare settings. Both companies’ tests are faster and cheaper than laboratory-based tests, enabling countries to increase the pace of testing, tracing and treating people for COVID-19 at the point of care particularly in areas with under-resourced health systems. A number of other Ag RDTs are at various stages of development and assessment.
To scale up the Ag RDTs, the Global Fund today announced that it has made available an initial US$50 million from its COVID-19 Response Mechanism to enable countries to purchase at least 10 million of the new rapid tests for LMICs at the guaranteed price, with the first orders expected to be placed this week through the Global Fund’s pooled procurement mechanism.
FIND and WHO are working together to accelerate appropriate use by supporting implementation research that will optimize Ag RDT use in multiple LMICs, in line with WHO guidance. This includes provision of catalytic volumes of tests to understand how Ag RDTs can best fit into health systems.
Unitaid and Africa CDC will combine resources to initiate the roll out of these tests in up to 20 countries in Africa starting in October 2020. This multi-million-dollar intervention, currently undergoing final sign-off by their Boards, is designed to engage multiple partners active in the COVID-19 response in these countries, such as CHAI, African Society for Laboratory Medicine (ASLM) and local organizations. This will bolster efforts by the African Union’s Partnership to Accelerate COVID-19 Testing (PACT) initiative, launched in August 2020 to mobilize experts, community workers, supplies and other resources to minimize the impact of the pandemic on the African continent by testing, tracing, and treating COVID-19 cases in a timely manner.
Testing is a critical cornerstone of the COVID-19 response, enabling countries to trace and contain the virus now, and to prepare for the roll-out of vaccines once available. Effective testing strategies rely on a portfolio of test types that can be used in different settings and situations. While molecular tests started to be rolled out within a month of the virus being sequenced, these tests are mainly laboratory based, relying on infrastructure and trained personnel to conduct them. Rapid tests to detect the presence of the virus at the point of care, which are faster and cheaper, are a vital addition to the testing arsenal needed to contain and fight COVID-19.
WHO guidance published on 11 September 2020 highlights the value of these tests in areas where community transmission is widespread and where nucleic acid amplification-based diagnostic (NAAT) testing is either unavailable or where test results are significantly delayed. As well as supporting test-trace-isolate strategies, the tests can help identify or confirm new outbreaks, support outbreak investigations through screening; monitor disease trends; and potentially test asymptomatic contacts.
The ACT-Accelerator Diagnostics Pillar is co-convened by FIND and the Global Fund, working closely with WHO and over 30 global health expert partners to accelerate innovation and overcome the technical, financial, and political obstacles to achieving equitable access to effective and timely testing. Such unprecedented global collaboration has enabled development and deployment of the first WHO EUL-approved Ag RDT within eight months of the first identification of the virus. In comparison, it took nearly five years to develop the first RDT for HIV. Several more antigen RDTs for COVID-19 are currently under WHO EUL review. Overall, the ACT-Accelerator Diagnostic Pillar aims to facilitate the supply of 500 million tests to LMICs within 12 months.
These agreements are critical to fulfil the key objective of the ACT-Accelerator: to ensure all countries, regardless of income, have fair access to new tests and tools to fight COVID-19. The exceptional speed with which the Ag RDT access package has been created demonstrates the breadth of the impact of the ACT-Accelerator initiative, and this and future achievements in testing will complement similar milestones anticipated to emerge from the Vaccines and Therapeutics Pillars.
Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director General of WHO, said: “High-quality rapid tests show us where the virus is hiding, which is key to quickly tracing and isolating contacts and breaking the chains of transmission. The tests are a critical tool for governments as they look to reopen economies and ultimately save both lives and livelihoods.”
Mark Suzman, Chief Executive Officer of the Gates Foundation, said: “Testing is an essential tool in the fight against COVID-19. We are delighted to join a partnership that will help ensure that the latest, high-quality diagnostics do not just go to the highest bidder but will be available at an affordable price to the world’s lower income countries. In addition, all of the actions announced today point to the growing success of the ACT-Accelerator in catalyzing global cooperation for a fair and effective response to this global crisis.”
Dr Iain Barton, Chief Executive Officer of CHAI, said: “These agreements will help ensure that millions of people in low- and middle-income countries have access to high-quality rapid testing in villages and towns as well as cities. This has the potential to revolutionize government’s ability to respond to the pandemic, enabling quick diagnosis and response to contain localized virus outbreaks before they spread.”
Andrea F. Wainer, Executive Vice President of Abbott’s rapid and molecular diagnostics businesses, said: “Abbott is pleased to bring our Panbio COVID-19 rapid antigen test and Sympheos digital solution to people and health authorities in low- and middle-income countries through this innovative partnership. We have long been committed to making sure our life-changing technologies are affordable and accessible, and for decades have been supporting many of these countries with our rapid tests for malaria, HIV, hepatitis, and other deadly infectious diseases.”
Hyo-Keun Lee, Chief Executive Officer of SD Biosensor, said: “We, SD Biosensor, are pleased to supply our STANDARD Q COVID-19 rapid antigen tests for people who really need fast and accurate COVID-19 diagnosis. Through this partnership, we will keep striving do our best to provide the best quality of COVID-19 antigen rapid kits for fighting COVID-19.”
Dr John Nkengasong, Director of the Africa CDC, said: “Antigen tests are an important complement to PCR testing, and are crucial to expand testing capacity throughout Africa. The beauty of antigen testing is that it is fast and gives quick results. It will allow healthcare workers to quickly isolate cases and treat them while tracing their contacts to cut the transmission chain.”
Dr Philippe Duneton, Unitaid’s Executive Director a.i., said: “Access to these point-of-care rapid tests with be a game changer in the fight against COVID-19. We are working to support countries to rapidly deploy and use these new tests in the best possible way. Today’s news shows what the ACT-A partners working together can deliver in our efforts against the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Dr Carolyn Gomes, Special Advisor for the Board, ProActividad, Jamaica, and Alternate Board Member (Developing Country NGOs), The Global Fund “Ensuring equitable access to rapid diagnostic tests is essential for controlling COVID-19 in all countries and to opening up economies across the world. Ensuring an affordable price is a major step forward. Tests that can be used at the point of care by front-line workers will greatly facilitate community access to testing. To ensure equity in access for those who need it most, there will need to be much greater support of the ACT-Accelerator and the Diagnostics Pillar in particular. Much more money is needed to meet the needs of the most vulnerable.”
Peter Sands, Executive Director of the Global Fund, said: “This is the ACT-Accelerator in action. It is proof that by working together at a massive global scale, we can develop and deploy a vital new tool to help contain and fight the pandemic. This is not just a new test – it’s the money and the deployment plan to get it to where it’s needed, fast. This is the power of global collaboration.”
Dr Catharina Boehme, Chief Executive Officer of FIND, said: “With this Ag RDT package, the ACT-Accelerator partners have secured much-needed tools for LMICs to dramatically increase COVID-19 testing. With the financial support of several countries, we have made great progress, but to ensure we reach all those who need testing and bring the prices down, we urgently need substantial funding from public, philanthropic, and multilateral sources.”
About the ACT-Accelerator
The Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator, is a new, ground-breaking 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 2020 and launched by WHO, the European Commission, France and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in April 2020. The ACT-Accelerator is not a decision-making body or a new organization, but works to speed up collaborative efforts among existing organizations to end the pandemic. It is a framework for collaboration that has been designed to bring key players around the table with the goal of ending the pandemic as quickly as possible through the accelerated development, equitable allocation, and scaled up delivery of tests, treatments and vaccines, thereby protecting health systems and restoring societies and economies in the near term. It draws on the experience of leading global health organizations which are tackling the world’s toughest health challenges, and who, by working together, are able to unlock new and more ambitious results against COVID-19. Its members share a commitment to ensure all people have access to all the tools needed to defeat COVID-19 and to work with unprecedented levels of partnership to achieve it. The ACT-Accelerator has four areas of work: diagnostics, therapeutics, vaccines and the health system connector. Cross-cutting all of these is the workstream on Access & Allocation.
The Diagnostics Pillar of the ACT-Accelerator is focused on ensuring that everyone who needs a test can get one. Workstreams span research and development, market readiness, procurement, and country preparedness. Achievements to date include laboratory trainings in partnership with Africa CDC in early February, and a suite of online courses deployed within weeks. Nearly 20 million tests have been procured with the Diagnostics Consortium, ensuring diagnostic access for LMICs and readiness for test-and-treat implementation in these countries. Independent evaluations of antibody tests are also being conducted, as high-quality antibody tests are essential to understand population immunity for future vaccine roll out.
For information about WHO’s Emergency Use Listing
During the current pandemic, International Safe Abortion Day is a timely reminder that access to legal and safe abortion is fundamental to every person’s right to attain the highest standard of sexual and reproductive health.Putting words into action: partnering to prevent unsafe abortion
HRP (the UNDP/UNFPA/UNICEF/WHO/World Bank Special Programme of Research, Development and Research Training in Human Reproduction) is collaborating with several partners to prevent unsafe abortion and support women’s and girls’ health, well-being and rights in the context of COVID-19; partners include DKT International, Ipas, International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF), Marie Stopes International, Pathfinder International, PSI and other organisations that are committed to preventing unsafe abortion and the devastating range of health risks it can lead to.
“Sexual and reproductive health commodities and services are already limited in many settings and are becoming more difficult to access during COVID-19. It is important that we combine our efforts,” explained Dr. Bela Ganatra, Prevention of Unsafe Abortion Unit Head at HRP and the WHO Department of Sexual and Reproductive Health and Research.
“Access to modern contraception and comprehensive abortion care are crucial to avoid an increase in unintended pregnancies and subsequent unsafe abortions. Stronger partnerships at the global, regional and country level promote successful strategies for ensuring these essential health services and human rights.”
Such collaborative efforts aim to support effective responses to sexual and reproductive health needs with a focus on service delivery and supply chain across four key areas:
Adaptations and indicators: identifying successful approaches for maintaining and scaling safe abortion services during and after the COVID-19 pandemic
Guidelines and recommendations: reviewing existing and new resources to avoid duplication of guidelines across partners
Mitigation strategies: assessing where and what measures are needed to reduce disruption in access to safe abortion services and supplies
Procurement and funding: reviewing the impact of funding gaps on service delivery and availability of medical abortion
Every year almost half of all pregnancies - 121 million - are unintended. This calls for the strengthening of contraceptive services and access to comprehensive abortion care. Since abortion services are time-bound by gestational and legal limits, women and adolescents seeking an abortion often resort to unsafe abortion when they cannot access safe abortion.
Postponing abortion care during COVID-19 may therefore lead to increased morbidity and mortality.
All individuals who can become pregnant and who seek medical abortion care – women, girls and those with varying gender identities – should be provided with the necessary information to make an informed decision about their reproductive health, rights, bodies and futures.
The WHO guidance, Maintaining essential health services: operational guidance for the COVID-19 context recommends that countries should ensure ongoing access to contraception services, as well as to safe abortion to the full extent allowed by law throughout the pandemic.Telemedicine and an opportunity for leaving no one behind
Abortions are safe when carried out with a WHO-recommended method that is appropriate to the pregnancy duration, and by a person who has the necessary skills. Unfortunately, the most recent available estimates show that around 45% of all abortions globally were unsafe.
Among the many barriers that limit access to safe abortion care, the lack of skilled providers is one of the most critical: in many countries, women in rural areas and those who are dependent on the public sector are especially affected.
Telemedicine, which has been promoted to support delivery of health services during COVID-19, may be a long-term opportunity to safeguard every person’s sexual and reproductive health and well-being far into the future.
Evidence has demonstrated that when medicines are made available alongside a source of accurate information and access to a health-care provider if needed or wanted at any stage of the process, self-medication can offer crucial support in providing access to safe abortion care.
“Eliminating unsafe abortion is one of the key components of the WHO Global reproductive health strategy,” explained Ian Askew, Director of HRP and the WHO Department of SRH.
“COVID-19 is teaching us so many lessons about digital health, self-management and opportunities for better service delivery to achieve this - now, in future, and in future healthcare emergencies.”