WHO Urges Countries To Bridge 16 Billion USD Funding Gap For ACT Accelerator

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The World Health Organization (WHO) urged countries on Monday to close a funding gap of 16 billion US dollars for the Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator project, which aims to accelerate the development, production, and equitable access to COVID-19 tests, treatments and vaccines left unanswered by participants in the 47th G7 summit in the United Kingdom.

“We have to close that financing gap. The world has the resources to rapidly close a 16-to-17 billion (dollar) gap,” said Bruce Aylward, senior advisor to the WHO director-general, at a press briefing on Monday. The funding is necessary “to ensure low-income countries have the tools they need” for vaccination, but also to carry out proper diagnoses and provide hospitals with oxygen, the Canadian epidemiologist said.

“We held numerous discussions with different G7 members going into the summit,” said Aylward. He said he hoped that solutions would be found during the meeting of G20 finance ministers and central bank governors in July 2021.

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While participants of the just-concluded G7 summit have pledged 870 million COVID-19 vaccine doses for the equitable vaccine distribution initiative COVAX, which is part of the ACT Accelerator, the question of the funding gap was not addressed, Michael Ryan, executive director of the WHO’s Health Emergencies Program, said at the briefing.

“In 2020, we spent nearly 2 trillion dollars … on defense around the world. Sixteen billion dollars represents less than one percent of one year’s worth of spending on military defense around the world,” he noted, adding “Surely we can afford one percent of that to save lives and bring this pandemic to an end.”

(With ANI Inputs)

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