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Global leaders unite to ensure everyone everywhere can access new vaccines, tests and treatments for COVID-19
Unprecedented gathering of heads of government, institutions and industry cements commitment to accelerate development and delivery for all populations
24 April 2020 News release
GENEVA – Heads of state and global health leaders today made an unprecedented commitment to work together to accelerate the development and production of new vaccines, tests and treatments for COVID-19 and assure equitable access worldwide.
The COVID-19 pandemic has already affected more than 2.4 million people, killing over 160,000. It is taking a huge toll on families, societies, health systems and economies around the world, and for as long as this virus threatens any country, the entire world is at risk.
There is an urgent need, therefore, while following existing measures to keep people physically distanced and to test and track all contacts of people who test positive, for innovative COVID-19 vaccines, diagnostics and treatments.
“We will only halt COVID-19 through solidarity,” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General. “Countries, health partners, manufacturers, and the private sector must act together and ensure that the fruits of science and research can benefit everybody.”
Work has already started. Since January, WHO has been working with researchers from hundreds of institutions to develop and test vaccines, standardize assays and standardize regulatory approaches on innovative trial designs and define criteria to prioritize vaccine candidates. The Organization has prequalified diagnostics that are being used all over the world, and more are in the pipeline. And it is coordinating a global trial to assess the safety and efficacy of four therapeutics against COVID-19.
The challenge is to speed up and harmonize processes to ensure that once products are deemed safe and effective, they can be brought to the billions of people in the world who need them. Past experience, in the early days of HIV treatment, for example, and in the deployment of vaccines against the H1N1 outbreak in 2009, shows that even when tools are available, they have not been equally available to all.
So today leaders came together at a virtual event, co-hosted by the World Health Organization, the President of France, the President of the European Commission, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The event was joined by the UN Secretary General, the AU Commission Chairperson, the G20 President, heads of state of France, South Africa, Germany, Vietnam, Costa Rica, Italy, Rwanda, Norway, Spain, Malaysia and the UK (represented by the First Secretary of State).
Health leaders from the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), GAVI-the Vaccine Alliance, the Global Fund, UNITAID, the Wellcome Trust, the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement (IFRC), the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers (IFPMA), the Developing Countries Vaccine Manufacturers’ Network (DCVMN), and the International Generic and Biosimilar Medicines Association (IGBA) committed to come together, guided by a common vision of a planet protected from human suffering and the devastating social and economic consequences of COVID-19, to launch this groundbreaking collaboration. They are joined by two Special Envoys: Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Gavi Board Chair and Sir Andrew Witty, former CEO of GlaxoSmithKline.
They pledged to work towards equitable global access based on an unprecedented level of partnership. They agreed to create a strong unified voice, to build on past experience and to be accountable to the world, to communities and to one another.
“Our shared commitment is to ensure all people have access to all the tools to prevent, detect, treat and defeat COVID-19,” said Dr Tedros. “No country and no organization can do this alone. The Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator brings together the combined power of several organizations to work with speed and scale.”
Health leaders called on the global community and political leaders to support this landmark collaboration and for donors to provide the necessary resources to accelerate achievement of its objectives, capitalizing on the opportunity provided by a forthcoming pledging initiative that starts on 4 May 2020. This initiative, spearheaded by the European Union, aims to mobilize the significant resources needed to accelerate the work towards protecting the world from COVID-19.
Commitment and call to action: Global collaboration to accelerate new COVID-19 health technologies
A Global Collaboration to Accelerate the Development, Production and Equitable Access to New COVID-19 diagnostics, therapeutics and vaccines
24 April 2020
Our Vision and Mission
Grounded in a vision of a planet protected from human suffering and the devastating social and economic consequences of COVID-19, we, an initial group of global health actors (BMGF, CEPI, Gavi, Global Fund, UNITAID, Wellcome Trust, WHO) and private sector partners and other stakeholders, are launching a landmark, global and time-limited collaboration to accelerate the development, production and equitable global access to new COVID-19 essential health technologies.
We know that as long as anyone is at risk from this virus, the entire world is at risk – every single person on the planet needs to be protected from this disease.
We agree that alongside evidence-based public health measures, innovative COVID-19 diagnostics, therapeutics and vaccines are needed – in record time and at record scale and access – to save millions of lives and countless trillions of dollars, and to return the world to a sense of ‘normalcy’.
We recognize the significant amount of critical work, investment and initiatives already ongoing around the world to expedite the development and deployment of innovative COVID-19 related products and interventions.
We appreciate that while development and deployment of innovative products is essential, it will not be enough. We must simultaneously and urgently accelerate the strengthening of sustainable health systems and capacities to enable delivery of the new COVID-19 tools to those who need them and to mitigate the knock-on impact on other diseases.
We remember lessons from the past, which have shown that even when effective tools are available to the world, too often some are protected, while others are not. This inequity is unacceptable – all tools to address COVID-19 must be available to all. In the fight against COVID-19, no one should be left behind.
We understand we cannot do this alone, and that we need to work together in unprecedented and inclusive partnership with all stakeholders – political leaders, public and private sector partners, civil society, academia, and all other stakeholders across society – jointly leveraging our comparative strengths and respective voices to drive towards collective solutions, an accelerated path, and access for all. We are stronger, faster and more effective working together.
Our Mission is not only accelerated development and availability of new COVID-19 tools – it is to accelerate equitable global access to safe, quality, effective, and affordable COVID-19 diagnostics, therapeutics and vaccines, and thus to ensure that in the fight against COVID-19, no one is left behind.
 We commit to the shared aim of equitable global access to innovative tools for COVID-19 for all.
 We commit to an unprecedented level of partnership – proactively engaging stakeholders, aligning and coordinating efforts, building on existing collaborations, collectively devising solutions, and grounding our partnership in transparency, and science.
 We commit to create a strong unified voice to maximize impact, recognizing this is not about singular decision-making authority, but rather collective problem-solving, interconnectedness and inclusivity, where all stakeholders can connect and benefit from the expertise, knowledge and activities of this shared action-oriented platform.
 We commit to build on past experiences towards achieving this objective, including ensuring that every activity we undertake is executed through the lens of equitable global access, and that the voices of the communities most affected are heard.
 We commit to be accountable to the world, to communities, and to one another. We are coming together in the spirit of solidarity, and in the service of humanity, to achieve our mission and vision.
We ask the global community and political leaders to support this landmark collaboration, and for donors to provide the necessary resources to accelerate achievement of the objectives of this global collaboration, capitalizing on the opportunity provided by the rolling pledging campaign that will start on 4 May 2020.
Why the world needs $8 billion now to get us to COVID-Zero
Opinion | 24 April 2020
Jeremy Farrar, Director Wellcome
Only when we have tools to detect, treat and prevent coronavirus disease everywhere, will we be able to stop the pandemic. Developing these tools requires new global partnerships and cooperation.
Science is the only true exit strategy for the COVID-19 crisis. My belief is that this is now an endemic human infection – one that will remain a challenge to the human race from now on.
Physical distancing and lockdown measures can slow the virus and lower the peak. But there has to be a longer-term strategy as well. Only when we have tools to detect, treat and prevent it everywhere, will we be able to stop the pandemic now and in the future.
Researchers around the world continue to make extraordinary efforts to understand the disease and the virus that causes it, as well as bringing forward potential science-based solutions as quickly as possible. We don’t know exactly where the tests, treatments and vaccines that eventually contribute to ending this crisis will come from – wherever that is, we must commit from the start to make them available to everyone who needs them, independent of their ability to pay.
There’s no guarantee that the first vaccines in clinical trials will be the ones we need. In fact, we will need a number of different vaccines. That’s why we can’t afford to wait for the best solution to emerge and then put everything we have behind it.
Instead, to get coronavirus vaccines, treatments and tests for the world, we need to be lining up as many shots on goal as we can to increase the chance of hitting the target as many times as we need in order to win.
For example, there are various ways to go about creating a vaccine. Some are tried and trusted platforms but they can be expensive and typically take about a decade to produce a safe and effective vaccine. Can we speed up and scale up these approaches? Or will it take new platforms that are unproven but, if faster, cheaper, safe and effective, could be game-changers?
We don’t know, of course. So all these potential approaches must get the full support they need. That will include testing in many different countries to determine whether they work for everyone, and making sure the capability is there to produce such a vaccine reliably, quickly and at a scale of billions of doses within a year.
Hitting the target does not mean a vaccine in a vial that’s been given to a few people or is available only to those who can afford it. That won’t work biologically, it won’t work in terms of public health, it won’t end the pandemic. In this case, success demands that the tools science delivers must be available to everyone – that means that the world must have the capacity to make enough kits or doses for everyone who needs them, many billions, and we must be absolutely committed to this from the start.
Funding multiple teams working on different approaches to develop and deliver these tools, and then funding manufacture and distribution to the entire world, means the costs are going to be huge. It will take billions and billions of dollars. Right now, though, even the initial seed funding to get this work up and running is not in place.
Wellcome calculates that the world is at least $8 billion short of what’s needed today. That’s not the final cost – far from it – but what’s required to fund the immediate research, the development of tests, treatments and vaccines, and also to ensure the world has the capacity to manufacture and deliver these tools quickly enough and at the scale required to end this pandemic and protect all of us from future COVID-19 crises.
We urgently need this money to start rolling in fast, at scale, without any thought of a financial return. That kind of funding can only come from governments, global business and philanthropies.
A summit organised by the European Commission on 4 May is exactly what we need to bring these groups together and get the world ready to end the pandemic. Every aspect of our response must be globally coordinated and united, using existing bodies like the World Health Organization and establishing new ones if required, such as the COVID-19 Therapeutics Accelerator (opens in a new tab).
It’s going to be different to anything humanity has ever achieved before. If we do it – and I’m optimistic that we will – the world can come out the other side of this crisis in better shape than we went into it. With new global partnerships and cooperation, enhanced public health, and equitable access to innovation front and centre, we can even be stronger.