WASHINGTON (AFP) – UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called on Wednesday (Sept 30) for an “immediate infusion” of US$15 billion (S$20 billion) to a global pool for the procurement and distribution of Covid-19 vaccines at a virtual summit hosted by the world body.
The ACT-Accelerator, led by the World Health Organisation, has received around 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.
Notable new pledges included an additional 100 million euros (S$160 million) by German Chancellor Angela Merkel, beyond the 675 million euros Germany has already committed.
Britain’s foreign minister Dominic Raab said his country, which has committed 250 million pounds (S$440 million), would spend another pound for every four dollars committed by others, up to an additional 250 million pounds.
Sweden’s Prime Minister Stefan Lofven pledged US$10 million while Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau touted a Can$440 million (S$450 million) commitment made last week, half of which will go to low or middle-income countries.
The World Bank’s president David Malpass said he had proposed “up to US$12 billion of fast-track financing” to countries for the purchase and deployment of Covid-19 vaccine, also previously announced.
‘WINDOW OF OPPORTUNITY’
“These resources are crucial now to avoid losing the window of opportunity for advance purchase and production, to build stocks in parallel with licensing, to boost research, and to help countries prepare to optimise the new vaccines when they arrive,” Guterres said.
“Despite extraordinary efforts to contain its spread, the Covid-19 pandemic continues to ravage the world, reaching one million lives lost this week,” he added.
“It is in every country’s national and economic self-interest to work together to massively expand access to tests and treatments, and to support a vaccine as a global public good.”
Addressing the summit, Bill Gates announced his foundation had signed a new agreement with 16 biotech firms to expand global access to vaccines, therapeutics and diagnostics.
Gates said that the world was on the brink of a “great scientific achievement” in the form of a vaccine.
But he added that the world’s low and low middle income countries, which made up nearly half of the global population, were only on track to cover 14 percent of their people with a Covid-19 vaccine.
Alex Gorsky, the chief executive officer of Johnson and Johnson, which is part of the agreement with the Gates Foundation, told the summit his company planned to allocate 500 million vaccine doses for lower income countries by the middle of next year.
WHO Director-General Tedros Ghebreyesus said he was “grateful for the generous financial commitments made” but added there remained a “significant funding gap to close.”