On May 12th, the United States, Belize, Germany, Indonesia and Senegal co-hosted the 2nd COVID-19 Summit, which aimed at “redoubling the efforts made at the first COVID Summit”. This Summit comes a month after the COVAX AMC Summit held by GAVI, and a week before the one year anniversary of the G20 Rome Global Health Summit: expectations are high, and the WHO has urged world leaders to make new, substantive commitments.
Indeed, two years after the start of the pandemic, its devastating socio-economic effects are still deeply felt globally, and the global response has not been adequate. The global vaccination strategy is far from track, and unacceptable vaccine equity persists. According to the WHO, only 15% of the adult population in the African continent had been fully vaccinated, and recent data estimates that about 15 million deaths have been associated directly or indirectly with the COVID-19 pandemic.
The pandemic is not over: the international community must continue its efforts to end it, but also to prepare for future health challenges.
We thus welcome the European Commission’s decision to adapt its response to the most urgent needs, and its pledge of €300 million for a vaccine delivery package, €100 million for diagnostics, therapeutics and strengthening health systems, and €427 million for the soon to be set-up Global Pandemic Preparedness Fund. These much needed contributions are crucial to scale up the efforts in the fight against COVID-19 and future threats.
During this Summit, nearly US$2.5 billion in total were pledged by different donors to advance the fight against COVID-19. These contributions are welcome, but a significant gap still remains to cover the ACT-Accelerator funding needs, thus preventing millions of people worldwide from accessing the appropriate tools to fight the pandemic. We call on the European Commission to scale-up its ACT-A contribution, particularly to support diagnostics and treatments, in order to help closing its funding gap. Diagnostics and treatments are lacking much needed contributions, and are fundamental to help ACT-A deliver on its full promise.
Building resilient health systems and empowering low-and-middle-income countries (LMICs) to develop and manufacture their health tools are the necessary conditions for better pandemic preparedness and response. The agreement between the United States, MPP and C-TAP announced during the Summit is a step forward towards more equitable access to life-saving health products. It sets an example for the European Commission and its Member States, whom we urge to undertake significant policies to foster innovation and favorise access in LMICs.