Six months after the first coronavirus case, we can see the catastrophic effects that COVID-19 has had on societies and economies across the world and the scale of what will be needed to get us out of the crisis.
More than half a million people have already lost their lives and all countries remain vulnerable to current or future outbreaks. As lockdowns and social distancing begin to ease, time is not on our side to get the lifesaving solutions to test, treat and prevent COVID-19 to those who need them the most.
In March, the Global Preparedness Monitoring Board(opens in a new tab) called for $8 billion of financing to support the urgent development and distribution of tests, treatments and vaccines. Now COVID-19 has reached every corner of the world, global demand for these will be huge. But when and if these tools are found, the debate about making them available, affordable and allocated in an equitable way will intensify.
In May, governments, global health organisations, scientists, businesses, civil society and philanthropies came together to create the Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator(opens in a new tab). This is a global collaboration to get lifesaving tests, treatments and vaccines from the laboratory to the front line.
Organisations from across global health are leading four pillars, focusing not just on research but also manufacturing, procurement, equitable allocation and distribution.
Their aims are ambitious, but essential:
Several billion dollars have already been raised to support this work, but more is urgently needed over the coming year. $3.4 billion has so far been pledged, and an additional $27.9 billion is needed.
While this funding is significant, it is a great investment to end the pandemic. It represents less than a tenth of the $37 billion the global economy is currently losing every month due to COVID-19, and it is only a fraction of the domestic responses major governments are mobilising to support their economies.
As international travel resumes once again, we are seeing that as long as COVID-19 is a threat somewhere, it is a threat everywhere. To stop the outbreaks, save lives and rebuild our economies we must provide the tools where they are needed most.
The Economist Intelligence Unit’s COVID-19 Health Funding Tracker(opens in a new tab) synthesises global, health-related funding efforts, from pledge to disbursement.
It tracks the flow of money towards development, production and equitable access to new COVID-19 diagnostics, therapeutics and vaccines, including those under the Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator initiative, and relevant funding for health systems. The tracker will help increase accountability through greater transparency and target further pledges towards critical funding gaps.