World leaders, scientists, humanitarians and private sector partners have united in a landmark collaboration that will make new tools and medicines to diagnose and treat COVID-19, accessible to people everywhere.
The virtual launch of the Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator has seen participation from all corners of the planet to boost commitment and support for the production of diagnostics, therapeutics and vaccines to save lives from an unprecedented enemy. Heads of State in attendance included the Presidents of France, South Africa, Costa Rica, Spain and Rwanda.
Since the beginning of the year, the World Health Organization has been working with thousands of researchers across the globe to accelerate and track the development of a vaccine against the disease, which has spread in all corners of the world and affected all aspects of life, the global economy, education, employment and travel.
WHO has also developed diagnostics which are being used by several countries, and is currently coordinating a solidarity clinical trial of four therapeutics to treat the virus.
“The world needs these tools, and it needs them fast. Past experience has taught us that even when tools are available, they have been not been equally available to all,” said WHO director-general, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, one of the event’s co-hosts.
“Our shared commitment is to ensure all people have access to all the tools to prevent, detect, treat and defeat COVID-19… No country and no organization can do this alone. The Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator brings together the combined power of several organizations to work with speed and scale,” he added.
The COVID-19 pandemic has already affected more than 2.4 million people, killing over 160,000, and taking a huge toll on families, societies, health systems and economies around the world.
Adhanom said there is an urgent need to test and track all contacts of people who test positive, for innovative COVID-19 vaccines, diagnostics and treatments while at the same time following existing measures to keep people physically distanced.
“We will only halt COVID-19 through solidarity. Countries, health partners, manufacturers, and the private sector must act together and ensure that the fruits of science and research can benefit everybody,” Dr Adhanom said.
Melinda Gates, the co-chair from Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation that as new diagnostics, treatments, and vaccines become available, everyone has a responsibility to get them out equitably with the understanding that all lives have equal value.
The global vaccine alliance (GAVI) is among key partners working to speed up the development of COVID-19 tools. “We need to devise and deliver a vaccine programme to get billions of doses out at a speed and scale never before contemplated, let alone achieved; the most rapid vaccine deployment in history”, said Seth Berkley, the alliance’s Chief Executive Officer.
During the meeting, health leaders called on the global community and political leaders to support this landmark collaboration and for donors to provide the necessary resources to accelerate achievement of its objectives, capitalizing on the opportunity provided by a forthcoming pledging initiative spearheaded by the European Union.
More than €7.5 billion is hoped to be raised in the global pledging effort and replenishing campaign which starts on May 4, 2020, to support the ramping up of COVID-19 diagnostics and treatments.
This initiative is spearheaded by the European Union.