As daily cases of COVID-19 reach a new peak and countries are forced to impose new lockdown measures, there is some good news on the horizon.
On Thursday, organizers at the Paris Peace Forum, announced an expected commitment of more than $500 million to boost research into the coronavirus. The funds will be raised by governments and private charities participating in the Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator initiative, an international coalition that aims to ensure global equitable access to COVID-19 tests, treatments, and vaccines.
"Even though this pandemic is devastating to our economies and terrible for our people … we still see an international world that is coming together and trying very hard to find common solutions," Norway's Prime Minister Erna Solberg said at the forum. "We are using a huge amount of money to balance our economies … but it will take longer if we don’t put up money for new solutions."
France and Spain will contribute €100 million ($118 million) and €50 million ($59 million), respectively, while the United Kingdom will commit one additional British pound for each $4 announced. The European Commission will contribute another €100 million ($118 million).
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation will add another $70 million to the efforts, $50 million of which will go to the COVAX Advance Market Commitment (AMC), which will help 92 of the poorest countries access almost 1 billion doses of the eventual vaccine.
The Gates Foundation’s other $20 million will go to the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), which is co-funding development of several COVID-19 vaccine candidates.
"We have to ensure that everyone gets equal access to tests, drugs, and vaccines when they are available — no matter where you live in the world," Gates Foundation Co-Chair, Melinda Gates said in a statement. "Our pledge today … means we are getting closer to having the resources needed to help the world fight this virus."
#ParisPeaceForum2020: “In this pandemic, there is no difference between helping yourself and helping others” concludes @melindagates, co-chair of the @gatesfoundation#SolutionsForPeacepic.twitter.com/OPSF2ic0cS— Paris Peace Forum (@ParisPeaceForum) November 12, 2020
The Paris forum commitments come at a critical time, when multiple vaccine manufacturers are nearing the end of their trials and releasing preliminary results. On Monday, pharmaceutical giant Pfizer announced that its vaccine proved to be more than 90% effective at preventing infection during preliminary trials.
With encouraging signs that the first vaccines may be ready for deployment by the end of 2020, it’s now more urgent than ever to prepare for a speedy and equitable distribution of the future vaccine. A recent report found that by distributing vaccines based on a country’s population, rather than its ability to purchase the vaccine, the world could prevent nearly double as many deaths as if wealthier countries gave into their hoarding tendencies.
"Equitable access is in the national interest of each and every country," said Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director general of the World Health Organization (WHO), at the forum. "In our interconnected world, if people in low- and middle-income countries miss out on vaccines, the virus will continue to spread and the economic recovery globally will be delayed."
The ACT-Accelerator is key to ensuring the equitable distribution of the future COVID-19 vaccine, especially for those who are most vulnerable. Since its formation, the coalition has called on the global community to step up and mobilize $38 billion to end the pandemic for everyone around the world.
Despite widespread interest, as of September, the ACT-Accelerator remained severely underfunded with a $35 billion shortage, including $15 billion needed for urgent matters.
Launched in April by seven global partners, the ACT-Accelerator is a unique coalition aimed at accelerating global efforts against the COVID-19 pandemic. Its members are working together to develop tests, treatments, and vaccines as quickly as possible, while also strengthening the world’s most fragile health systems.
But the organization desperately needs financial support from governments around the world. You can join us in calling on world leaders to fund the ACT-Accelerator by taking action here.