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UN chief seeks $35bn funding for WHO’s COVID-19 vaccine research

United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres on Thursday, September 10, 2020 called for a “quantum leap in funding” for the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) initiative to speed up the development of COVID-19 vaccines, therapeutics, and diagnostics.

António Guterres
UN chief António Guterres. Photo credit: UN Photo/Mark Garten

The project, known as the Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator (ACT), has received $3 billion , which Guterres called “critical as a seed funding.”

“But we now need $35 billion more to go from ‘start-up’ to ‘scale-up and impact,’” the UN chief told an online meeting of the ACT facilitation council.

“There is real urgency in these numbers – without an infusion of $15 billion over the next three months, beginning immediately, we will lose the window of opportunity to further advance research, build stocks in parallel with licensing, start procuring and delivering the new diagnostics and therapeutics.

“And help countries prepare to optimise the new vaccines when they arrive,” Guterres said.

The initiative, which was launched at a Brussels donor conference in May, advocates for the fair distribution of future vaccines and medications to developing as well as developed countries.

ACT involves major philanthropic health funds such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, as well as the Britain-based Wellcome Trust.

Guterres also noted a “worrying trend of numerous parallel initiatives and nationally focused efforts that would not only be undermining an effective global response, it would be self-defeating.”

“No one and no country will be safe until everybody is safe,” he said.

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