- President Biden and global leaders agreed ambitious targets, aligned with the ACT-Accelerator, to end the COVID-19 pandemic
- Collective accountability for world leaders, industry and partners emphasized, as global response now turns to implementation of these targets
- Concrete action must now follow this summit to deliver and deploy tests, treatments, and vaccines immediately, to prevent further unnecessary loss of life
Global leaders attending the US-hosted Global COVID-19 Summit on 22 September re-affirmed their commitment to ending the acute phase of the pandemic, and the goals of the ACT-Accelerator, by agreeing targets to provide equitable access to COVID-19 tests, treatments, and vaccines.
Global targets agreed at the Summit include vaccinating 40% of the world’s population in 2021 and 70% of the population in 2022; achieving testing rates of one per 1,000 people per day in all countries by the end of 2021; and for all facilities treating patients with severe COVID-19 to have sufficient oxygen supplies, quality-assured treatments and PPE.
Currently the world is facing a two-track pandemic, where public health measures are starting to lift among highly vaccinated populations, while those in low and middle-income countries are still grappling with lockdowns, high death rates and insufficient tools to fight the virus. The economic case could not be clearer. Research from the International Chamber of Commerce shows that vaccine nationalism could cost rich countries US$4.5 trillion.
The ACT-Accelerator partnership welcomes President Biden’s political leadership and new commitments in support of these goals, including additional financing, dose donations, and the establishment of an EU-US taskforce to work toward vaccination objectives. These targets have come at a crucial time ahead of the G20 in Rome in October, and as the ACT-Accelerator prepares to launch its new Strategy and Budget.
Carl Bildt, WHO Special Envoy for the ACT-Accelerator and former Prime Minister of Sweden, said: “President Biden’s COVID-19 Summit should be the tipping point to ending the pandemic. We saw significant commitments from global leaders towards the goals of the ACT-Accelerator and agreement on what needs to be done to defeat the pandemic. In the next month, we must see concrete progress towards the fulfilment of these ambitious goals.
“Right now, 1.5 billion doses of vaccine are being produced every month, but most of the world doesn’t have access to any of them. Sick people need oxygen now. Doctors and nurses need PPE. Without widespread testing we risk being blindsided by the next variant. Manufacturers need to deliver their promised doses to COVAX and AVAT. Rich countries need to honour their promises to global access and make space at the front of the queue. All countries need to step up, because we cannot afford to go through the full Greek alphabet of variants.”
The ACT-Accelerator is the only integrated, end-to-end solution to the pandemic everywhere. The partnership is committed to making sure that the targets agreed become a reality. In order to achieve this, the global response – estimated at $50bn by the IMF – needs to be fully funded. Compared to the trillions spent by G20 countries mitigating the consequences of the pandemic, and the trillions more that will be spent if it continues, that is an unbeatable return on investment.
The Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator (ACT-Accelerator) is a global coalition of organizations developing and deploying the new diagnostics, treatments and vaccines needed to end the acute phase of the pandemic. Pooling the expertise of its many partners, the ACT-Accelerator has quickly ushered in rapid, affordable tests and effective medicines, and established the COVAX facility for the equitable procurement and distribution of vaccines in low- and middle-income countries.
The ACT Accelerator’s work is more vital than ever as new variants of the virus threaten to resist current COVID-19 tools, posing the risk of more death, illness, and social and economic harm. The ACT-Accelerator has four areas of work, or pillars:
- A diagnostics pillar, led by the Global Fund and FIND
- A therapeutics pillar, led by UNITAID and Wellcome
- A vaccines pillar, led by CEPI, Gavi and WHO and implementing partner UNICEF
- A health systems connector, led by the World Bank and the Global Fund and implementing partner Global Financing Facility
UNICEF is a cross-cutting partner of the ACT-Accelerator, providing programmatic support and procurement of supplies for countries across all Pillars. A workstream on access and allocation of COVID-19 products, hosted by WHO, cuts across the four pillars.
The ACT-Accelerator partnership was formed at the onset of the pandemic in response to a call from G20 leaders, and was launched by WHO, the European Commission, France and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Critical funding for the effort comes from an unprecedented mobilization of donors, including countries, the private sector, philanthropists and multilateral partners. It has supported the fastest, most coordinated, and successful global effort in history to develop tools to fight a disease.