UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Wednesday called for an “immediate infusion” of $15 billion to global contributions for the procurement and distribution of Covid-19 vaccines.
“These resources are crucial now to avoid losing the window of opportunity for advance purchase and production, to build stocks in parallel with licensing, to boost research, and to help countries prepare to optimize the new vaccines when they arrive,” Guterres said.
Guterres said this at a virtual summit hosted by the world body.
The ACT-Accelerator, led by the World Health Organization, has so far gotten around $3 billion of the $38 billion estimated to meet the goal of producing and delivering two billion vaccine doses, 245 million treatments and 500 million diagnostic tests over the next year.
Notable new pledges included an additional 100 million euros ($117 million) by German Chancellor Angela Merkel, beyond the 675 million euros Germany has already committed.
Britain’s foreign minister Dominic Raab said his country, which has committed 250 million pounds ($320 million), would spend another pound for every four dollars committed by others, up to an additional 250 million pounds.
Sweden’s Prime Minister Stefan Lofven made a pledge of $10 million, while Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau put forward a Can$440 million ($332 million) commitment last week, half of which will go to low or middle-income countries.
The World Bank’s president David Malpass said he had proposed “up to $12 billion of fast-track financing” to countries for the purchase and deployment of Covid-19 vaccine, also previously announced.
Guterres lamented that despite great efforts to curb its spread, the Covid-19 pandemic continues to ravage the world.
“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 — with its COVAX Facility — is the vehicle to get us there. Let me point to three fundamental reasons why.
“First, the ACT-Accelerator is the only global mechanism with the full spectrum of partners and tools to beat the pandemic — with tests, treatments and the world’s largest portfolio of vaccines in the most advanced trial stages”.
Also speaking at the summit, philantrophist Bill Gates announced his foundation had signed a new agreement with 16 biotech firms to expand global access to vaccines, therapeutics and diagnostics.
Gates said that the world was on the edge of a “great scientific achievement”, which would present itself in the form of a vaccine.
But he added that the world’s low and middle income countries, which make up nearly half of the global population, were only on track to cover 14 percent of their people with a Covid-19 vaccine.
Alex Gorsky, CEO of Johnson and Johnson, which is part of the agreement with the Gates Foundation, told the summit his company planned to allocate 500 million vaccine doses for lower income countries by the middle of next year.
WHO Director-General Tedros Ghebreyesus said he was “grateful for the generous financial commitments made” but added there remained a “significant funding gap to close.”