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ACT-Accelerator, global coalition to fight COVID-19, faces fund constraints

PB Jayakumar     March 15, 2021

ACT-Accelerator, a global coalition formed in April last year to end the coronavirus pandemic with new vaccines, tests and treatments, is facing an acute funding shortage to meet its goals for 2020-21, says the ACT-Accelerator Prioritised Strategy & Budget for 2021.

The original ACT-Accelerator investment case published in September 2020 had outlined a total requirement of US$ 38.1 billion to fully fund its work for 2020-21, but so far could mobilise only US$11 billion, requiring an additional US$ 22.1 billion in 2021 to deliver on its full promise - to deliver over 2 billion doses of vaccines, 900 million tests and up to 100 million of new treatment courses. ACT-Accelerator was formed by the World Health Organisation (WHO), European Commission, France and The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and other public interest groups.

"The ACT Accelerator has made strong progress. But new viral variants, limited vaccine supply, and underinvestment have resulted in the need to refresh the strategy and budget that chart the roadmap out of the pandemic," says Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of WHO.

The WHO noted that a study commissioned by the International Chamber of Commerce demonstrated that even with strong Covid-19 vaccine coverage in high-income countries, inequitable access to Covid-19 tools elsewhere would cost high-income economies an additional US$ 2.4 trillion in 2021 alone.

Thus far, the US$11 billion committed to ACT-Accelerator came from a coalition of public (87 per cent), private (6 per cent) and multilateral (7 per cent) donors. In February, the US announced US$ 2.5 billion, and said that it will release an additional US$ 1.5 billion for vaccine procurement and delivery through 2021 and 2022. The US leads with 22.8 per cent of the total contribution, followed by Germany - 23.9 per cent, United Kingdom - 10.1 per cent, Canada 6.9 per cent, European Commission - 5.5 per cent and Norway - 4.1 per cent.  Mastercard, Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, Michael & Susan Dell Foundation and Wellcome Trust were among the main donors for ACT-Accelerator.

As of February, the ACT Accelerator established a portfolio of 11 vaccine candidates across four technology platforms investing US$ 1.2 billion in vaccine development and established the 'COVAX' Facility for procurement and equitable distribution of vaccines to 191 countries with 2 billion doses secured through six deals, including with the Serum Institute of India.  A total of 28 million doses have been shipped to 33 countries as of March 10, says the document. There is also a possibility of an additional 500 million doses in developing countries, allowing countries to get closer to 30 per cent population coverage. This would require an additional US$ 2 billion on top of the US$ 6.3 billion already contributed by donors.

The ACT-Accelerator's four 'Strategic Priorities for 2021' will be to rapidly scale up the delivery of at least 2 billion doses of vaccines, bolster R&D, evaluations & regulatory pathways to optimise products and address variants, stimulate rapid and effective uptake and use of COVID-19 tests, said the WHO.

Also read: COVID-19 vaccination: At current rate, India will take 12.6 years to vaccinate 70% population

Also read: Novavax vaccine 96% effective against coronavirus; 86% vs British variant


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