Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator commitments reach US$ 5.1billion following new contributions, including at Paris Peace Forum
Donors commit to fund the scale up of the ACT-Accelerator but warn additional funding is critical to support its success
- The European Commission, France, Spain, The Republic of Korea and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation pledge US$360 million to COVAX, the Vaccines Pillar of the ACT Accelerator
- Emmanuel Macron, President of France; Erna Solberg, Prime Minister of Norway; Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission; Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the WHO; Melinda Gates, Co-Chair of The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation discuss essential need for multilateral action and the ACT Accelerator’s role in ending the acute phase of the pandemic as quickly as possible
- Leaders warn that the world’s capacity to fundamentally change the dynamic of the pandemic in the first half of 2021 is at risk if there are delays to urgent funding
Heads of state, global health leaders, scientists and the private sector have come together at the Paris Peace Forum this week to discuss how to meet the urgent funding needs of the ACT Accelerator. New contributions bring the total committed to over US$ 5.1 billion – but an additional US$ 4.2 billion is needed urgently this year, with a further US$ 23.9 billion required in 2021, if tools are to be deployed across the world as they become available.
Since April, the ACT Accelerator partnership, launched by WHO and partners, has supported the fastest, most coordinated, and successful global effort in history to develop tools to fight a disease. With significant advances in research and development by academia, private sector and government initiatives, the ACT Accelerator is on the cusp of securing a way to end the acute phase of the pandemic by deploying the tests, treatments and vaccines the world needs.
Speaking at the Paris Peace Forum, Emmanuel Macron, President of France, said: “Together, we have implemented the ACT-A system, with the ambition to be part of a "global public good" approach, that is, to allow access for all to these tools to fight this pandemic.”
Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission reminded delegates that the US$ 28 billion needed to fund the ACT-Accelerator to fulfil its objectives is equivalent to “the same sum the transport sector and the global tourism sector lose in just two days of lockdown”. She added that “there is a very clear message behind it. It’s way better to invest now in the ACT Accelerator and to COVAX – for the distribution in every corner of the world of vaccines – than to struggle longer with all the confinement measures we have suffered during this pandemic.”
Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the WHO, said: “This pandemic is unprecedented, and it has taken the whole world hostage. The only option we have is cooperation and solidarity. It is a must. The world is seeing it that way.”
Erna Solberg, Prime Minister of Norway and co-chair of the ACT Accelerator Facilitation Council, said: “We have to look beyond aid for financing. We need to look at private sector, innovative mechanisms, other ways to get this money, fast. We need to accelerate this faster than we are doing these days.”
Melinda Gates, co-chair of The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, said: “COVID-19 has made distinction completely irrelevant. In this pandemic, there’s no difference between helping yourself and helping others. The self-interested thing and the selfless thing are one and the same.”
In just 6 months the ACT Accelerator, through its partnership of the world’s leading international health organizations, has already delivered significant and concrete results: more than 50 diagnostic tests are being evaluated and new rapid antigen diagnostics are being made available for low and middle income countries; life-saving dexamethasone treatments are being used and rolled out; new monoclonal antibodies are being evaluated; 186 countries are working with COVAX, the world’s largest and most diverse portfolio of vaccines; a diverse research portfolio of nine vaccines candidates are in clinical trials and systems requirements for delivery of COVID-19 tools have been mapped in 4 of the world’s 6 regions.
The urgent funding need of US$ 4.2 billion will save lives, lay the groundwork for mass procurement and delivery of COVID-19 tools around the world, and provide an exit strategy out of this global economic and human crisis by:
- Massively expanding testing globally by immediately increasing the number & volumes of new high-quality rapid diagnostic tests and facilitating use in countries with fragile systems;
- Transforming treatment to save lives by hugely accelerating the availability and use of dexamethasone and oxygen, and securing production capacities for monoclonal antibodies;
- Rolling out mass vaccination by securing vaccines doses now to launch their worldwide rollout for at least 20% of the global population, while quickly investing in further R&D, technology transfer and scale-up of global manufacturing capacity; and
- Unblocking bottlenecks to COVID-19 tools supply chain management, logistics and delivery with rapid assessments, integrated delivery plans and key investments in countries with the most fragile systems.
Fully financing the ACT-Accelerator will position the world to fundamentally change the dynamic of the pandemic. Funding gaps mean delays in access to tools in 2021 and the world continuing to rely on non-pharmaceutical interventions like stay-at-home orders and physical distancing as the primary line of defense against the virus.
Against the ACT Accelerator’s US$ 38.1 billion budget, outlined in its newly published ‘Urgent Priorities & Financing Requirements’, US$ 5.1 billion has been committed to date, alongside down payments of US$ 4.8 billion through COVAX self-financing countries. The ACT Accelerator Commitment Tracker provides details on total commitments to date.
Fully financing the ACT Accelerator would shorten the pandemic, saving millions of lives with the investment paid back in as little as 36 hours as the global economy recovers.
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 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 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 Wellcome. 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 Organisation (WHO).
WHO today listed the nOPV2 vaccine (Bio Farma, Indonesia) for emergency use to address the rising cases of a vaccine-derived polio strain in a number of African and East Mediterranean countries. Countries in WHO’s Western Pacific and South-East Asia regions are also affected by these outbreaks. The emergency use listing, or EUL, is the first of its kind for a vaccine and paves the way for potential listing of COVID-19 vaccines.
The world has made incredible progress toward polio eradication, reducing polio cases by 99.9% in the last 30 years. But the last steps to ending this disease are proving the most difficult, particularly with continuing outbreaks of circulating vaccine-derived polio viruses (cVDPVs).
cVDPVs are rare and occur if the weakened strain of the poliovirus contained in the oral polio vaccine (OPV) circulates among under-immunized populations for a long time. If not enough children are immunized against polio, the weakened virus can pass between individuals and over time genetically revert to a form that can cause paralysis. Type 2 cVDPVs are currently the most prevalent form of the vaccine-derived virus.
The EUL procedure and how it could help to speed up access to a future COVID-19 vaccine
The EUL procedure assesses the suitability of yet to be licensed health products during public health emergencies, such as polio and COVID. The objective is to make these medicines, vaccines and diagnostics available faster to address the emergency. The assessment essentially weighs the threat posed by the emergency against the benefit that would accrue from the use of the product based on a robust body of evidence.
The procedure was introduced during the West Africa Ebola outbreak of 2014-2016, when multiple Ebola diagnostics received emergency use listing; since then, numerous COVID-19 diagnostics have also been listed. The nOPV2 is the first such listing for a vaccine.
The EUL pathway involves a rigorous assessment of phase II and phase III clinical trial data as well as substantial additional data on safety, efficacy and manufacturing quality. These data are reviewed by independent experts who consider the current body of evidence on the vaccine under consideration, the plans for monitoring its use, and the plans for further studies.
Experts from individual national authorities are invited to participate in the EUL review and are engaged to help facilitate the necessary country-level decision process for authorization of use. Once a vaccine has been listed for WHO emergency use, WHO engages its regional regulatory networks and partners to sensitize national health authorities on the vaccine and its anticipated benefits based on data from clinical studies to date.
In addition to deciding whether to use the vaccine, each country needs to complete a readiness process for the implementation of the vaccine under the EUL. The company producing the vaccine also commits to continue to generate data to enable full licensure and WHO prequalification of the vaccine. WHO prequalification will assess additional clinical data generated from vaccine trials and deployment on a rolling basis to ensure the vaccine continues to meet the necessary standards of quality, safety and efficacy for broader availability (i.e. through procurement by UN agencies and others).