When I joined Wellcome last September, I could not have predicted that in a year I would be one of the convenors for an extraordinary global partnership to find and deliver millions of lifesavings treatments during a pandemic.
Much about this year has been unprecedented. I had only been at Wellcome for six months when the Covid-19 crisis hit. We had to rapidly shift our operations to facilitate remote working and ensure the safety of our staff. Our people were absolutely outstanding in adapting to this new world so quickly. At the same time, we had to quickly shift to support the global push to find Covid-19 treatments, tests and vaccines.
For me, this started in February, when I got involved in the creation of the COVID-19 Therapeutics Accelerator which Wellcome co-founded with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Mastercard. We established this initiative to coordinate R&D efforts, help remove barriers to drug development and scale up treatments to prevent or treat mild and moderate coronavirus cases.
Soon after, I took on the role as co-convenor for the therapeutics workstream of the most comprehensive global initiative to stop the pandemic – the Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator. In just a few months, the ACT-Accelerator Therapeutics Partnership has made outstanding progress, and to me, proven why we need a multilateral approach to change the course of this pandemic.
Here, I wanted to share some insights about how we make a global collaboration of this scale work in practice.
What is the ACT-Accelerator Therapeutics Partnership?
The ACT-Accelerator is a groundbreaking global collaboration to accelerate development, production, and equitable access to Covid-19 tests, treatments and vaccines, and strengthen health systems.
It was launched by the World Health Organization (WHO) in April, and brings together governments, scientists, businesses, civil society, philanthropists and international health organisations. The Therapeutics Partnership is the pillar dedicated to treatments, led by Wellcome and Unitaid.
Who is involved?
I work alongside my counterpart, Philippe Duneton, Executive Director of Unitaid, to oversee workstreams dedicated to treatment research, market entry, and delivery of treatments in low- and middle-income countries.
Other organisations have partnered with us, offering specific insight and expertise in each workstream. R&D is overseen by Wellcome, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the WHO, via the COVID-19 Therapeutics Accelerator.
Manufacturing, procurement and delivery have been overseen by Unitaid and the Global Fund, with additional support from UNICEF, the WHO and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
What does the Therapeutics Partnership want to do?
We want to find the most promising treatments for everyone across the world and make sure that the most marginalised communities can access them too.
To achieve this, we need $7.2 billion to fund treatment research, prepare the market to produce treatments at scale, and deliver 245 million treatment courses in low- and middle-income countries by mid-2021.