Thirty countries and multiple international partners and institutions have signed up to support the COVID-19 Technology Access Pool (C-TAP) an initiative aimed at making vaccines, tests, treatments and other health technologies to fight COVID-19 accessible to all.
The Pool was first proposed in March by President Carlos Alvarado of Costa Rica, who joined WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus today at the official launch of the initiative.
“The COVID-19 Technology Access Pool will ensure the latest and best science benefits all of humanity,” said President Alvarado of Costa Rica. “Vaccines, tests, diagnostics, treatments and other key tools in the coronavirus response must be made universally available as global public goods”.
“Global solidarity and collaboration are essential to overcoming COVID-19,” said WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. “Based on strong science and open collaboration, this information-sharing platform will help provide equitable access to life-saving technologies around the world.”
The COVID-19 (Technology) Access Pool will be voluntary and based on social solidarity. It will provide a one-stop shop for scientific knowledge, data and intellectual property to be shared equitably by the global community.
The aim is to accelerate the discovery of vaccines, medicines and other technologies through open-science research, and to fast-track product development by mobilizing additional manufacturing capacity. This will help ensure faster and more equitable access to existing and new COVID-19 health products.
There are five key elements to the initiative:
- Public disclosure of gene sequences and data;
- Transparency around the publication of all clinical trial results;
- Governments and other funders are encouraged to include clauses in funding agreements with pharmaceutical companies and other innovators about equitable distribution, affordability and the publication of trial data;
- Licensing any potential treatment, diagnostic, vaccine or other health technology to the Medicines Patent Pool - a United Nations-backed public health body that works to increase access to, and facilitate the development of, life-saving medicines for low- and middle-income countries.
- Promotion of open innovation models and technology transfer that increase local manufacturing and supply capacity, including through joining the Open Covid Pledge and the Technology Access Partnership (TAP).
With supportive countries across the globe, C-TAP will serve as a sister initiative to the Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator and other initiatives to support efforts to fight COVID-19 worldwide.
WHO, Costa Rica and all the co-sponsor countries have also issued a “Solidarity Call to Action” asking relevant stakeholders to join and support the initiative, with recommended actions for key groups, such as governments, research and development funders, researchers, industry and civil society.
WHO and Costa Rica co-hosted today’s launch event, which began with a high-level session addressed by the WHO Director-General and President Alvarado in addition to Prime Minister Mia Mottley of Barbados and Aksel Jacobsen, State Secretary, Norway. There were video statements by President Lenín Moreno of Ecuador; President Thomas Esang Remengesau Jr., of Palau; President Lenín Moreno of Ecuador; , Michelle Bachelet, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights; Jagan Chapagain, Secretary General of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies; and Retno Marsudi, Minister for Foreign Affairs for Indonesia. Leaders from across the UN, academia, industry and civil society joined for a moderated discussion.
To date, the COVID-19 Technology Access Pool is now supported by the following countries: Argentina, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belgium, Belize, Bhutan, Brazil, Chile, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Honduras, Indonesia, Lebanon, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Maldives, Mexico, Mozambique, Norway, Oman, Pakistan, Palau, Panama, Peru, Portugal, Saint Vincent and Grenadines, South Africa, Sri Lanka,Sudan, The Netherlands, Timor-Leste, Uruguay, Zimbabwe
Other international organizations, partners and experts have also expressed support to the initiative and others can join them using the website.
Note to Editors:
The Solidarity Call to Action follows from numerous international commitments, including: Global Sustainable Development Goal 3, target 3b; The WHO Global Strategy and Plan of Action on Public Health, Innovation and Intellectual Property (GSPA- PHI) and the WHO Roadmap for access to medicines, vaccines and health products 2019-2023; the UN General Assembly Resolution on “International cooperation to ensure global access to medicines, vaccines and medical equipment to face COVID-19” (A/RES/74/274); and the 73rd World Health Assembly Resolution on the “COVID-19 response” (WHA73.1).
To access the event: https://who.zoom.us/j/99683467690 - Password: WHO%OMS27
The World Health Organization is today launching a new kit for school students aged 13-17 to alert them to the tobacco industry tactics used to hook them to addictive products. Every year the tobacco industry invests more than USD 9 billion to advertise its products. Increasingly, it is targeting young people with nicotine and tobacco products in a bid to replace the 8 million people that its products kill every year.
This year’s WHO’s World No Tobacco Day campaign focuses on protecting children and young people from exploitation by the tobacco and related industry. The toolkit has a set of classroom activities including one that puts the students in the shoes of the tobacco industry to make them aware of how the industry tries to manipulate them into using deadly products. It also includes an educational video, myth-buster quiz, and homework assignments.
The toolkit exposes tactics such as parties and concerts hosted by the tobacco and related industries, e-cigarette flavours that attract youth like bubble-gum and candy, e-cigarette representatives presenting in schools, and product placement in popular youth streaming shows.
Even during a global pandemic, the tobacco and nicotine industry persist by pushing products that limit people’s ability to fight coronavirus and recover from the disease. The industry has offered free branded masks and delivery to your door during quarantine and has lobbied for their products to be listed as ‘essential’.
Smoking suffocates the lungs and other organs, starving them of the oxygen they need to develop and function properly. “Educating youth is vital because nearly 9 out of 10 smokers start before age 18. We want to provide young people with the knowledge to speak out against tobacco industry manipulation,” said Ruediger Krech, Director for Health Promotion at WHO.
Over 40 million young people aged 13-15 have already started to use tobacco. To reach more young people WHO also launched a TikTok dance challenge and welcomed social media partners like Pinterest, Tinder, YouTube and TikTok to amplify messaging.
WHO calls on all sectors to help stop marketing tactics of tobacco and related industries that prey on children and young people:
- Schools refuse any form of sponsorship and prohibit representatives from nicotine and tobacco companies from speaking to students
- Celebrities and influencers reject all offers of sponsorship
- Television and streaming services stop showing tobacco or e-cigarette use on screen
- Social media platforms ban the marketing of tobacco and related products and prohibit influencer marketing
- Government and financial sector divest from tobacco and related industries
- Governments ban all forms of tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship
Countries can protect children from industry exploitation by putting in place strict tobacco control laws, including regulating products like e-cigarettes that have already begun to hook a new generation of young people.
First published in The Guardian
We stand as advocates for addressing women’s issues. Because gender equity is so closely linked to health, we also see the achievement of universal health coverage - the need for which has only been heightened by the COVID-19 pandemic - as a global priority. We therefore take the opportunity of Menstrual Hygiene Day – 28 May – to highlight an unacceptable crisis: girls’ and women’s health issues with regards to stigma, taboo and lack of knowledge about menstruation, and unmet needs for essential health interventions and access to sanitation and hygiene systems.
“COVID-19 is not the great leveller, but rather the great amplifier of inequality. That gives us a clear duty to protect the most vulnerable and disadvantaged, and to address the root causes of inequality. We must act now – while the storm is raging – or be ashamed by the number of lives swept away on our watch,” said Rt. Hon. Helen Clark, Former Prime Minister of New Zealand and Board Chair of The Partnership for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health, in an OpEd published ahead of the event, co-authored by H.E. Ms. Kersti Kaljulaid, President of Estonia and Co-Chair of the High-Level Steering Group for Every Woman Every Child; Jorge Alcocer Varela is Mexico's Secretary of Health; and Graca Machel the founder of the Graca Machel Trust.
The World Health Organization (WHO) welcomes the creation of the WHO Foundation, an independent grant-making entity, that will support the Organization’s efforts to address the most pressing global health challenges.
Headquartered in Geneva, the Foundation will support global public health needs by providing funds to WHO and trusted implementing partners to deliver on the Organization’s “triple billion” goals. Featured in WHO’s five-year strategic plan, these goals aim to: protect 1 billion people from health emergencies; extend universal health coverage to 1 billion people; and assure healthy lives and wellbeing to 1 billion people by 2023.
The Foundation which is legally separate from WHO, will facilitate contributions from the general public, individual major donors and corporate partners to WHO and trusted partners to deliver on high-impact programmes. Its goal is to help broaden WHO’s donor base and work towards more sustainable and predictable funding. The WHO Foundation will simplify the processing of philanthropic contributions in support of WHO and make such contributions possible on all aspects of health and WHO’s mission.
“An important part of WHO's future success is broadening its donor base and increasing both the quantity and quality of funds at its disposal," said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General. "The creation of the WHO Foundation, as part of WHO's transformation, is an important step towards this goal, and towards achieving our mission to promote health, keep the world safe and serve the vulnerable.”
“Today’s announcement is the culmination of more than two years of preparation and hard work by countless individuals and partner organizations. I would like to thank Professor Thomas Zeltner for spearheading this incredible adventure and founding the organization.”
“The work of the WHO is vital for both safeguarding and promoting global health – a role that has become all the more crucial in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. WHO’s achievements and contributions to global health and the wellbeing of humanity are tremendous, but we cannot take those accomplishments for granted. The WHO deserves a strong, independent, external advocate who can support and strengthen its impact. I am proud to lead these efforts and to create this missing piece in global health by establishing the WHO Foundation,” said Professor Thomas Zeltner, Founder of the WHO Foundation and former Secretary of Health of Switzerland and Director-General of the Swiss National Health Authority.
Established under the laws of Switzerland, the Foundation has benefitted from the guidance of an Advisory Group that has included experts in global health, philanthropy, ethics, and finance. The Foundation’s Board will now assume all governance responsibilities and will review all strategic decisions and serve as the highest decision-making body of the Foundation. Founding Board Members are: Mr. Bob Carter, Ms. Clare Akamanzi and Professor Thomas Zeltner.
In view of the COVID-19 pandemic, the WHO Foundation will initially focus on emergencies and pandemic response, and it will also raise and disburse funds for all WHO global public health priorities in full alignment with the WHO Member State adopted General Programme of Work.
A Call to Action: Get Involved with the WHO Foundation
Global health matters for everyone, everywhere. The WHO Foundation is an exceptional opportunity to shape the future of global health together. Be part of this journey, donate now or engage in a long-term strategic partnership and contact the team at email@example.com. Online giving is active at www.whofoundationproject.org, and tailored donations can be received by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org. All donations made to the WHO Foundation are tax-deductible to the extent feasible by relevant national laws.
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.
About WHO Foundation
The WHO Foundation is an independent grant-making foundation focused on addressing the most pressing global health challenges of today and tomorrow. By funding high-impact initiatives and advancing strategies of innovation, effectiveness, and rapid response, it will support the global health ecosystem. Headquartered in Geneva and legally independent from the WHO, the Foundation will work responsibly with individual donors, the general public and corporate partners to strengthen health systems globally. Specifically, the WHO Foundation will support global public health needs, from prevention, mental health, and non-communicable diseases to emergency preparedness, outbreak response and health system strengthening.
The Public Service Announcement Features Illumination's Globally Beloved Gru and the Minions Characters and is Voiced by Steve Carrell
May 27, 2020 – (Geneva, Switzerland) –The World Health Organization, the United Nations Foundation and Illumination have partnered to launch a Public Service Announcement (PSA) that reinforces safe and healthy practices during these challenging times, featuring Illumination’s globally beloved Gru and the Minions. The PSA focuses on lifesaving behaviors to help mitigate the impacts of COVID-19, including physical distancing, being active at home and remaining kind to each other —all aimed at making sure people of all ages stay safe and healthy during this pandemic.
“At this challenging time, we must find all ways possible to provide hope to people while sharing advice that can protect our health,” said Dr. Tedros Adhanom, Director-General of the World Health Organization. “WHO is excited to be working with Illumination and Steve Carell and the joys of the Minions and Gru to promote the importance of physical distancing, keeping active and connected, and being kind and compassionate to overcome COVID-19.”
The PSA is voiced by Academy Award® and Emmy Award® nominee Steve Carrell, who voices the character Gru in the Despicable Me franchise. The PSA will be localized into multiple languages including Spanish, French, Portuguese and Arabic, among others.
“Storytelling is a powerful tool to accelerate positive social change in the world. It is an honor to partner with the WHO and UN Foundation to remind people around the globe to protect themselves, each other and our communities during this pandemic. I am also appreciative to Participant for helping to organize the collaboration and to my partners at Comcast/NBCU for helping to amplify this important message,” said Illumination Founder and CEO Chris Meledandri.
Illumination is the first Hollywood Studio to partner with the World Health Organization, the UN Foundation and the COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund to create an entertaining and educational PSA for global audiences. Participant helped facilitate the collaboration between Illumination to the United Nations Foundation and the World Health Organization.
"As the world continues to grapple with the challenges of COVID-19, one of our most powerful weapons is kindness," said Elizabeth Cousens, President & CEO of the United Nations Foundation. "We are delighted that the Despicable Me characters are letting their love show and showing ways to keep themselves and their communities safe during this unprecedented time."Related content:
Watch the public service announcement: https://youtu.be/DYkIKU_PcBc
About the World Health Organization
The World Health Organization directs and coordinates international health within the United Nations system. Working with its 194 Member States, WHO’s mission is to promote health, keep the world safe and serve the vulnerable. For more information about WHO, visit www.who.int. Follow WHO on Twitter and Facebook
About the UN Foundation
The UN Foundation brings together ideas, people, and resources to help the United Nations drive global progress and tackle urgent problems. Our hallmark is to collaborate for lasting change and innovate to address humanity’s greatest challenges. Learn more at www.unfoundation.org
About the COVID-19 Solidarity Fund
To support the work of the World Health Organization (WHO) and partners in their global work on COVID-19, the UN Foundation helped launch the COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund that has raised more than $200 million for lifesaving work around the world. Learn more about the COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund for the WHO, powered by the UN Foundation at www.covid19responsefund.org.
Illumination, founded by Academy Award® nominee Chris Meledandri in 2007, is one of the entertainment industry’s leading producers of event-animated films, including Despicable Me, the world’s most successful animated franchise. The company’s iconic and beloved properties, which are infused with memorable and distinct characters, global appeal and cultural relevance, include three of the top-ten animated films of all time.Media Contacts:
Sarah Levinson Rothman
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All the cells in our body share the same DNA, but only a fraction is put to use in a given cell. The identity of each individual cell is thus defined by which genes are active at any given time. Aerts tries to decode the mechanisms underlying gene regulation, to better understand their role in health and disease. His team is one of many across the globe who have embraced single cell technology to study individual cells at unprecedented resolution.
Chromatin access and gene expression “Single cell technologies provide new opportunities to study the mechanisms underlying cell identity. However, these techniques require the dissociation of the tissue, which means we lose information on the original location of individual cells in the tissue,” explains Aerts. While new experimental techniques are arising that preserve spatial information when profiling single cells, they are mostly focused on transcriptomics, i.e. measuring gene expression in each cell.
“One of the challenges in the field of single-cell regulatory genomics is how to integrate chromatin accessibility and transcriptome information,” says Aerts. “Chromatin accessibility serves as a readout of the DNA elements that control gene expression, while transcriptomics allows to measure gene expression itself in each cell. Our aim was to integrate both layers to infer spatial gene regulatory networks.”
The developing fruit fly eye The team turned to the fruit fly, or Drosophila by its Latin name, a popular model organism for molecular biologists. More specifically, they studied the larval eye-antennal disc, which gives origin not only to the fly’s compound eyes but also to the head capsule and antennae.
“The Drosophila eye-antennal disc provides an ideal biological system for the spatial modelling of gene regulation at single cell resolution: it comprises complex, dynamic, and spatially restricted cell populations in two dimensions,” explains Carmen Bravo González-Blas, PhD student in Aerts’ lab and first-author of the study.
She takes us through the newly developed approach: “First, we generated an epigenomic and a transcriptomic atlas of the eye-antennal disc. Taking advantage of the fact that the disc itself is a 2D tissue, we spatially map these single-cell profiles on a virtual eye-antennal disc. We use these virtual cells to derive links between enhancers and target genes using a new regression approach.”
The scientists investigated to what extent enhancers in a large space around the transcription start site of a gene can predict the expression of the gene. Bravo González-Blas: “We could conclude that genes are regulated by many enhancers, likely with a redundant function to ensure an accurate regulation of gene expression.”
A valuable resource The newly developed strategy to map transcriptomic and epigenomic information is also applicable to other tissues and organisms, and the software is freely available via GitHub. Currently, it is limited to 1D or 2D tissues and requires some a priori information about at least one landmark between the real and the virtual cells. Nevertheless, the spatial gene expression atlas Aerts and his team constructed accurately recapitulates known gene expression patterns, and allows to generate virtual gene expression profiles for any gene, at a good resolution.
“We envision that our computational strategies and resources will be of value not only to the Drosophila research community, but also to the field of single-cell regulatory genomics in general,” says Aerts.
Publication Identification of genomic enhancers through spatial integration of single-cell transcriptomics and epigenomics, Bravo González-Blas et al. 2020
News Date: 26/05/2020