Global coalition launches fundraising appeal to stem surge of dangerous Covid variants

$7.7 billion is urgently needed to address issues in world’s response to pandemic

A global coalition of organisations is calling for $7.7 billion to help it develop and introduce diagnostics, treatments and vaccines to end the acute phase of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Access to Covid-19 Tools Accelerator says more Covid-19 cases have been reported in the first five months of 2021 than in the whole of 2020.

This is despite high vaccination rates in some countries protecting populations from severe disease and death.

The coalition says inadequate testing and low vaccination rates are exacerbating disease transmission and overwhelming local health systems, while leaving the world vulnerable to new variants.

Many countries are experiencing new waves of infections but wealthier nations have introduced mass vaccinations, more robust testing and made treatments increasingly available.

Poorer countries are struggling to access these vital tools because of a lack of funds and supplies, says Act-Accelerator.

The coalition says that while four variants of concern dominate the epidemiology, there are fears that new and possibly more dangerous strains could emerge.

Act-Accelerator is calling for funding to make tools available to everyone, everywhere, which will benefit all countries through a more globally inclusive and co-ordinated response.

The organisation launched its $7.7bn appeal to fund the Rapid ACT-Accelerator Delta Response, which will urgently address problems with the world’s response to the pandemic.

This includes investing $2.4bn to put all low and lower-middle-income countries on track towards a tenfold increase in Covid-19 testing.

It will enhance local and global understanding of the changing disease epidemiology and emerging variants of concern.

It will also provide information on the appropriate application of public health and social measures to break chains of transmission.

The organisation plans to spend $1bn on research and development to ensure that tests, treatments and vaccines remain effective against the Delta variant and other emerging strains, and that they are accessible and affordable where they are needed.

Another $1.2bn will be spent rapidly addressing oxygen needs to treat the seriously ill and control the exponential death surges caused by Delta.

The response will use $1.4bn to help countries identify and address hurdles to effectively introducing and using all Covid-19 tools.

As supply of vaccines increases in the coming months, flexible funding will be essential to help fill delivery gaps.

Another $1.7bn will be used to provide two million essential healthcare workers with enough basic PPE to keep them safe while they care for the sick.

The funding will prevent the collapse of health systems where the workforce is already understaffed and overstretched, and prevent further spread of Covid-19.

Act-Accelerator is also looking to reserve supplies of 760 million doses of vaccine to ensure there is enough to make deliveries into 2022.

Reserving doses requires capital and on delivery these doses will cost another $3.8bn.

Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director General of the World Health Organisation, said the $7.7bn was "needed urgently to fund the ACT-Accelerator’s work to address the Delta surge and put the world on track to ending the pandemic".

“This investment is a tiny portion of the amount governments are spending to deal with Covid-19 and makes ethical, economic and epidemiological sense,” Dr Tedros said.

“If these funds aren’t made available now to stop the transmission of Delta in the most vulnerable countries, we will undoubtedly all pay the consequences later in the year.”

Updated: August 16th 2021, 10:12 PM