G-20 summit

G-20 urged to fill $6b funding gap for vaccine distribution

Major pharmaceutical companies are now closing in on vaccines against the virus.
Major pharmaceutical companies are now closing in on vaccines against the virus.PHOTO: REUTERS

RIYADH • The Group of 20 nations must help plug a US$4.5 billion (S$6 billion) funding gap for a WHO-led programme to distribute coronavirus vaccines and pave the way for an end to the pandemic, a letter seen by Agence France-Presse (AFP) said.

The letter, sent ahead of this weekend's virtual G-20 summit, was signed by Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, World Health Organisation (WHO) chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus and European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen.

"A commitment by G-20 leaders at the G-20 summit in Riyadh to invest substantially in the ACT-Accelerator's immediate funding gap of US$4.5 billion will immediately 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," the letter dated Nov 16 and seen by AFP on Friday said.

"With this funding, and a joint commitment to spend a proportion of future stimulus on the Covid-19 tools needed globally, the G-20 will build a foundation to end the pandemic," added the letter addressed to King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud of Saudi Arabia, the current G-20 president.

ACT-Accelerator is an initiative led by the WHO that promotes equitable distribution of Covid-19 vaccines, diagnostics and treatments globally.

Major pharmaceutical companies are now closing in on vaccines against the virus, amid a global spike in cases that has caused some countries to reimpose restrictions to curb transmission.

"The recent breakthroughs on Covid-19 vaccines offer a ray of hope" but they must "reach everyone", United Nations chief Antonio Guterres said on Friday.

"Over the past seven months, countries have invested US$10 billion in the effort to develop vaccines, diagnostics and therapeutics. But US$28 billion more is needed - including US$4.2 billion before the end of the year," he added.

In September, the UN estimated that the ACT-Accelerator had received only US$3 billion of the US$38 billion needed to meet the goal of producing and delivering two billion vaccine doses, 245 million treatments and 500 million diagnostic tests over the next year.

International Monetary Fund (IMF) managing director Kristalina Georgieva warned on Thursday that the global economy faces a hard road back from the Covid-19 downturn even as a medical solution is in sight.​

  • US$38b

    Amount needed to meet the goal of producing and delivering two billion Covid-19 vaccine doses, 245 million treatments and 500 million diagnostic tests over the next year.

The pandemic has infected more than 58 million people and caused more than 1.3 million deaths worldwide. The IMF expects the world economy to contract by 4.4 per cent this year.

"The lack of an adequately financed global exit strategy is an existential threat to the economic and health security of all countries and their citizens," said the letter to the G-20 president.

"Only by tackling the pandemic globally will economic vitality be restored and a catastrophe be averted."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on November 22, 2020, with the headline 'Group urged to fill $6b funding gap for vaccine distribution'. Print Edition | Subscribe