Antonio Guterres, the secretary-general of the United Nations, has again called for a “quantum leap in support” for a global vaccine plan to contain the coronavirus pandemic, as the United Kingdom, Canada, Germany and Sweden promised nearly $1bn in funds to support developing nations secure access to COVID-19 vaccines and treatments.
The Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator and its COVAX facility – led by the World Health Organization and GAVI vaccine alliance – has received $3bn, but needs a further $35bn, of which $15bn is required by the end of the year.
The initiative aims to deliver two billion vaccine doses by the end of 2021, 245 million treatments and 500 million tests.
Some 168 countries have now signed up to COVAX, the UN said.
“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 – a ‘people’s vaccine’ available and affordable for everyone, everywhere,” Guterres said on Wednesday at a high-level virtual UN event on the programme.
The UN chief said the ACT-Accelerator was the only safe and certain way to reopen the global economy quickly, but warned that the programme needed an immediate injection of $15bn to “avoid losing the window of opportunity” for advance purchase and production, to build stocks in parallel with licensing, boost research, and help countries prepare.