SAWT BEIRUT INTERNATIONAL

| 2 December 2021, Thursday |

WHO, partners seek $23.4 bln for new COVID-19 war chest

A $23.4 billion plan to bring COVID-19 vaccines, tests and drugs to poorer countries in the next year has been proposed on Thursday by the World Health Organization (WHO) and other aid groups appealing to leaders of the G20 who are meeting this weekend for funding.

The ambitious plan outlines the strategy of the Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator (ACT-A) until September 2022, is likely to include use of an experimental oral antiviral pill made by Merck & Co for treating mild and moderate cases.

If the pill is approved by regulatory authorities, the cost could be as little as $10 per course, the plan said, in line with a draft document seen by Reuters earlier this month. read more

“The request is for $23.4 billion. That’s a fair amount of money, but if you compare with the damage also done to global economy by the pandemic it is not really that much,” Carl Bildt, WHO Special Envoy to the ACT-Accelerator, told a pre-briefing for selected journalists ahead of a press conference by WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

Bildt, a former prime minister of Sweden, acknowledged that the ACT-A has struggled to secure previous financing and noted that Norway and South Africa co-chair a fund-raising effort.

“So we do expect a strong signal from (the G20) coming out of the meeting in Rome over the weekend,” he said.

Equal budgets of $7 billion are earmarked for both vaccines and diagnostic tests, with a further $5.9 billion for boosting health systems and $3.5 billion for treatments including antivirals, corticosteroids, and medical oxygen.

COVAX, the vaccines arm of the ACT-A, has delivered some 400 million COVID-19 doses to more than 140 low- and middle-income countries, where vaccination rates remain low, WHO chief scientist Soumya Swaminathan said.