UN chief calls for urgent funding for WHO-led mechanism to tackle COVID-19

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Medical workers are seen in a COVID-19 quarantine hospital in Cairo, Egypt, on June 15, 2020. Egypt reported on Monday its highest single-day COVID-19 deaths with 97 fatalities, taking the death toll in the North African country to 1,672, said the Egyptian Health Ministry. According to the ministry's spokesman Khaled Megahed, 1,691 new COVID-19 infections have also been registered in the past 24 hours, bringing the total confirmed cases to 46,289. (Xinhua/Ahmed Gomaa)
(Xinhua/Ahmed Gomaa)

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Thursday called for urgent funding for the “Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator” (ACT-Accelerator), a global collaboration led by the World Health Organization for the development of COVID-19 diagnostics, therapeutics and vaccines.

“We need a quantum leap in funding to increase the chances of a global solution to get the world moving, working and prospering again,” he told the inaugural meeting of the ACT-Accelerator Facilitation Council.

The 3 billion U.S. dollars contributed to date has been critical as a seed funding for the start-up phase of the ACT-Accelerator. But 35 billion dollars more is needed to go from “start-up” to “scale-up and impact,” he said.

“There is real urgency in these numbers. Without an infusion of 15 billion dollars over the next three months, beginning immediately, we will lose the window of opportunity to further advance research, build stocks in parallel with licensing, start procuring and delivering the new diagnostics and therapeutics, and help countries prepare to optimize the new vaccines when they arrive.”

Without the exceptional mobilization of resources, the funding target will never be reached, he warned.

Guterres stressed the need to overcome the worrying trend of numerous parallel initiatives and nationally focused efforts that would not only be undermining an effective global response, but would also be self-defeating.

It is in the best interests of all countries to ensure equitable access to new vaccines. No one and no country will be safe until everybody is safe, he said. “That is how we maximize our chances to stop this pandemic as rapidly as possible.”

Guterres warned that a vaccine alone cannot solve this crisis — certainly not in the near term. He encouraged investment in ACT-Accelerator. “Our global interconnectedness requires global solutions. Either we stand together, or we will be doomed and fall apart. We need unity and solidarity like never before.”

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