Picture: 123RF/DENNIZN
Picture: 123RF/DENNIZN

Zürich — UN secretary-general António Guterres has called for $35bn more, including $15bn in the next three months, for the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) Access to Covid-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator programme to back vaccines, treatments and diagnostics against Covid-19.

Some $3bn has been contributed so far, Guterres told an online event on Thursday, calling it “seed funding” that is less than 10% of what the WHO wants for the programme.

Financial support has, so far, lagged goals, as nations or governments, including the EU, Britain, Japan and the US, reach bilateral vaccine deals, prompting Guterres and WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus to plead to nations to contribute.

“We now need $35bn more to go from ‘start up’ to ‘scale up and impact’,” Guterres said at a meeting of a council formed to help the ACT Accelerator gain traction. “There is real urgency in these numbers. Without an infusion of $15bn over the next three months, beginning immediately, we will lose the window of opportunity.”

The total sought, $38bn, is more than the previously published $31.3bn ACT goal and includes, for the first time, additional funding for health systems, in addition to vaccines, therapeutics and diagnostics, a WHO spokesperson said.

European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen pledged backing, having, in August, already promised €400m to the Covax vaccine portion of the programme.

“It is difficult to find a more compelling investment case. The European Commission will remain deeply and entirely committed to the success of the ACT Accelerator,” Von der Leyen said. “The world needs it; we all need it.”

Tedros renewed calls for scaling up Covid-19 clinical trials. AstraZeneca suspended late-stage trials on its potential vaccine this week after an illness in a participant in Britain.


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