The virtual launch of the Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator, saw participation from all corners of the planet to boost commitment and support for the production of diagnostics, therapeutics and vaccines to save lives from an unprecedented enemy.
Heads of State who took part included the Presidents of France, South Africa, Costa Rica, Spain and Rwanda.
“A world free of COVID-19 requires the most massive public health effort in global history,” said UN Secretary-General António Guterres, speaking from New York.
“Data must be shared, production capacity prepared, resources mobilized, communities engaged, and politics set aside. I know we can do it. I know we can put people first”.
No one is safe
Mr. Guterres underlined that in an interconnected world, no one is safe from the new coronavirus disease.
“COVID-19 respects no borders. COVID-19 anywhere is a threat to people everywhere,” he said.
COVID-19 first emerged in Wuhan, China, last December and was declared a global pandemic three months later. So far, there have been more than 2.6 million cases worldwide, and nearly 182,000 deaths, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
The health crisis has also affected everything from the global economy, to education, employment and travel.
Since January, WHO has been working with thousands of researchers across the globe to accelerate and track development of a vaccine against the disease.
The UN agency has also developed diagnostics which are being used by several countries, and is currently coordinating a “solidarity” clinical trial of four therapeutics to treat the virus.
“The world needs these tools, and it needs them fast,” said WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, one of the event’s co-hosts.
‘The most rapid vaccine deployment in history’
Tedros described the ACT Accelerator as “a landmark collaboration” as it brings together the combined power of several organizations.
The global vaccine alliance, GAVI, is among key partners working to speed up development of COVID-19 tools.
“We need to devise and deliver a vaccine programme to get billions of doses out at a speed and scale never before contemplated, let alone achieved: the most rapid vaccine deployment in history”, said Seth Berkley, the alliance’s Chief Executive Officer.
The biopharmaceutical industry also stands ready to bring its unique knowledge to the partnership, as well as its expertise and experience – including in building manufacturing and distribution networks.
“Today, scientists in the public and private sector hold the keys to our common goal: the swift end of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Thomas B. Cueni, Director-General of the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers.
“In the fight against COVID-19, we must ensure that no one is left behind. We will only succeed in this journey together.”
Pledging conference ahead
The European Commission will on 4 May host a Global Pledging Effort and replenishing campaign to raise 7.5 billion Euros to support the ramping up of COVID-19 diagnostics and treatments.
However, this is but the first step, as beating the virus will require sustained actions on many fronts, said Ursula von der Leyen, the Commission President.
“We need to develop a vaccine, we need to produce it and to deploy it in every single corner of the world, and make it available at affordable prices. This vaccine will be our universal common good”, she stated.