Five matters of urgency for the Coronavirus Global Response Summit

From access to tests, treatments and vaccines for everyone to coordinating urgent action – Alex Harris shares five key messages ahead of the Coronavirus Global Response Summit.

Migrant children from the Moria camp in Lesbos island wearing masks and playing.
Credit: Milos Bicanski / Getty Images

Alex Harris

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Five matters of urgency for the Coronavirus Global Response Summit
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Wellcome is one of the supporters of the Coronavirus Global Response hosted by the European Commission on 4 May. The online pledging conference will bring together national governments, multilateral organisations and global health partners to pledge financial support for global research into coronavirus.

Five considerations we must prioritise  

1. Funding 

Put bluntly, today is all about the money. We need to raise an initial $8 billion to advance research into Covid-19. Lockdowns and social distancing slow the virus and buy vital time, but they are not enough to stop it. For as long as coronavirus is out of control somewhere, it is a threat everywhere.

2. Interventions

We believe the exit strategy from coronavirus is research to develop three vital tools: tests, treatments and vaccines. Rapid diagnostic tests to track the virus, isolate those infected and protect the vulnerable. Effective treatments to save lives and reduce the severity and impact of the disease on health systems. And vaccines to protect people and prevent future infections. We need to see financial support for all three.

3. Equitability 

We also need to make sure that no matter where they are developed or manufactured, tests, treatments and vaccines are available to everyone in the world who needs them, regardless of their ability to pay. To help achieve this, global health organisations have come together to support a new collaboration to accelerate the development and production of, and equitable access to, diagnostics, therapeutics and vaccines.

4. Coordinated action 

The way out of this crisis is together. No part of the world remains unaffected by Covid-19 – the pandemic demands coordinated action to solve it. This challenge is too complex for any one country to solve alone. Governments must work together to ensure scientists have the funding they need to develop the tests, treatments and vaccines that can help end this crisis.

5. Sustainability 

We urgently need this money to be pledged, without any thought of a financial return, and more will be needed. The future is hard to predict, even more so now. To face this crisis, developing countries need strong defences. The deployment of vaccines will be next to impossible if we allow immunisation programmes to collapse. Today, pledges will also be welcomed to support Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, to deliver routine immunisation over the next five years. Support to lower-income countries, as part of our global response, is essential to ensure our global health security and to avoid future pandemics.