Period. 29 September - 5 October 2020
  • The Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator is the world’s largest effort to scale up the research, development and equitable distribution of diagnostics, therapeutics, and vaccines. The WHO-led program announced last week that it would supply low- and middle-income countries with 120 million rapid tests for SARS-CoV-2 over the next six months to assist governments to expand testing capacities. The rapid test package includes volume guarantees, funding to help countries deploy the tests, as well as an initial US$50 million commitment by the Global Fund to assist governments with procuring the US$5 tests. The WHO Director General claimed these rapid tests were particularly useful for developing countries, as they provide reliable results in less than 30 minutes at a lower price with less sophisticated equipment or specialized staff. The tests will begin to roll out in October in 20 African countries with the support of Africa CDC and UNITAID.
  • While much of the world’s focus has been on a COVID-19 vaccine, the growing demand has not translated to a global framework that would ensure equitable access, as wealthier countries have been accused of vaccine nationalism by preemptively purchasing entire vaccine supplies. The COVAX Facility, which is a pillar of the ACT Accelerator, also incorporates a section on Advanced Market Commitments that target the delivery of two billion safe and effective doses of COVID-19 vaccines. Last Wednesday, world leaders pledged US$1 billion towards the ACT Accelerator. Despite the latest round of pledges, the ACT Accelerator remains grossly underfunded, with a staggering $35 of $38 billion still needed to meet its goals, including $15 billion in immediate funding. To support low- and middle-income countries with vaccine procurement and distribution, the World Bank President announced his intention last week to seek approval for a US$12 billion COVID-19 vaccine dispersal fund. The World Bank board is expected to vote on the vaccine fast-track financing fund in early October, which would be part of over US$160 billion that the international financing institution has pledged in COVID-19 aid financing to developing countries.

This development is part of the digest;