Multilaterals advance against pandemic

The multilateral response to the Covid-19 pandemic gained traction this month with progress on medical interventions, logistics, and UNGA operations.

On April 24, WHO launched the Access to Covid-19 Tools (ACT) accelerator, a collaborative effort with numerous global health actors aiming to speed up the development of “essential health tools”—vaccines, therapeutics, diagnostics—while pursuing “equitable global access.” France’s president and Germany’s chancellor participated in a video launch event, with media sources like Reuters noting the absence of U.S. involvement. The collaborators—including the foundation, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), Gavi, the Global Fund, Unitaid, and Wellcome—called on the global community to support a European Union-led pledging drive, commencing May 4, that seeks to raise $8 billion to fund ACT’s work.

On the logistics front, WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus announced on April 8 the establishment of the UN COVID-19 Supply Chain Task Force, which seeks to ship medical cargo, including PPE, to 95 countries while commercial aviation is disrupted. The first of the Task Force’s “Solidarity Flights”—jointly chartered by WFP and WHO—touched down April 14 in Addis Ababa with supplies destined for Djibouti, Eritrea, Somalia, Sudan, and Tanzania.

Moreover, the UN this week announced the creation of a Covid-19 Supply Portal, a single platform where countries can submit medical equipment requests, supporting coordination of the humanitarian supply chain. Also, Gavi provided $40 million to help UNICEF secure medical gear for 58 low- and lower-middle-income countries.

The UNGA continued its work in the face of social distancing requirements through a “silence procedure” that allows member states to adopt resolutions remotely. Without meeting in person, the General Assembly to date has approved six resolutions, the most recent calling for “equitable” and “global” access to medicines, vaccines, testing, and supplies to address the pandemic.

In less hopeful news, UN officials warned that Covid-19 would likely kill at least 300,000 Africans and impoverish 30 million, and the WFP executive director estimated that the pandemic would almost double the number of people worldwide facing “crisis levels” of hunger.

The Pharma News Covid-19 Vaccine Dashboard provides an overview of coronavirus vaccines currently in development and shows funding commitments from WHO ACT accelerator members and others.

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