Every Country needs Vaccine, No One Commit to Fund WHO for Achieving This Goal

Rich countries have moved aggressively to lock down sufficient vaccine doses for their citizens, but few have invested in ensuring there’s an effective vaccine, in the first place.And even big upfront investment in some countries could be wasted if their citizens are too skeptical to take an eventual vaccine. We’ve mapped where 15 countries, plus the European Union, stand on their vaccine prospects.

Every country needs vaccine, no one commit to fund WHO for achieving this goal

Speaking at the United Nations General Assembly this week, leaders from across the globe called for a vaccine against coronavirus to be made available to all countries around the world. But we didn’t hear anyone commit to funding the World Health Organization program that’s focused on achieving that goal — the Access to Covid-19 Tools (ACT)-Accelerator. 

That’s despite the organization’s call for more money for vaccine development, tests and medicines that can be used to end the pandemic.

The world has spent more than $10 trillion to prop up national economies in the wake of coronavirus-induced lockdowns. But the WHO has received just $3 billion for the vaccine effort, which could help end the economic malaise. The WHO needs at least $35 billion more, it said, to get the job done. And since this week’s UNGA is virtual, there are no opportunities to haggle for more money on the sidelines. The U.N. Secretary General António Guterres, the WHO, the U.K. and South Africa are organizing a separate fundraising event.

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Why don’t we share intellectual property and other knowledge so that tests, treatments and technologies to fight Covid-19 are accessible to everyone, everywhere. The country launched the initiative in May with the WHO and 40 other countries. The so-called Covid-19 Technology Access Pool compiles commitments to share virus-related health technology, intellectual property and data. This morning, Costa Rican President Carlos Alvarado Quesada and the WHO are hosting a virtual event to give an update and encourage more countries and organizations to join.

Many leaders praised the work of the WHO in response to the pandemic, while dancing around U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw his country from the organization earlier this year. Trump didn’t miss the opportunity to once again claim that the WHO is “virtually controlled by China” — which he repeated in his pre-recorded speech on Tuesday at the Assembly.

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A few leaders mentioned the need to improve the global health architecture to better respond to pandemics in the future. Russian President Vladimir Putin noted that the WHO’s capability needs to be “qualitatively” strengthened. “This work has already begun and Russia is genuinely motivated to engage in it,” he said. German Chancellor Angela Merkel called for a stronger WHO Thursday, arguing that “global tasks can only be solved globally.”

Peter Piot, a Belgian microbiologist who was part of the team that discovered Ebola and who is now advising the European Union Commission president on the coronavirus pandemic, told POLITICO’s Jillian Deutsch that we might be “entering into an age of pandemics.” Like many other experts, he stressed that the world was not ready for it and it will probably not be prepared for the next one. Piot spoke about his own mistakes earlier this year, including shaking hands with a reporter. “Intellectually, I knew this was going to go big,” he said, but in his personal behavior he reverted to “deeply enshrined cultural habits.”

Canada’s Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland warned Thursday that political pressure on health regulators around the world will “very dangerous consequences,” a day after Trump suggested the White House might reject a Food and Drug Administration proposal for stronger standards on the emergency use of any eventual Covid-19 vaccines. In the U.S., the leaders of the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Medicine warned the same day of “alarming” political interference in the work of scientists and public health experts.

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A global team of researchers looked at five countries in Asia Pacific — Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea and Hong Kong Special Administrative Region — and four in Europe — Germany, Norway, Spain, and the U.K. — and published their conclusions in the Lancet on Thursday. Countries need to continue measures to reduce transmissions, such as social bubbles, and ensure it has effective systems to find, test, trace and isolate infected people, the paper says. Finally, screening and quarantine are essential when reopening borders.

More than 100 patient organizations from 38 countries are launching the World Patients Alliance, to give patients a seat at the health care policy-making table. The Alliance will advocate for equal and affordable access to quality health care, the empowerment of patients, and improvements in patient education and health care literacy. Too often, health care policy doesn’t consider patients’ needs, said Hussain Jafri, founding director of the Alliance and and secretary general of Alzheimer’s Pakistan.

Originally published by Politico

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