No Time to Relax! Key Questions on the EU’s Plans to Speed Up Global COVID-19 Vaccination

The European Union (EU) confirmed today that they have signed an agreement with drugmakers that includes an option for the companies to deliver vaccines modified for variants within 100 days. Alongside this were the remarks made by President Ursula von der Leyen on Thursday at the closing of the European Council, where she made reference to the production of 300 million doses of vaccines per month in the EU.

All this signals a strong rollout of vaccines, support from governments, and commitments by all to get on top of this crisis. Yet, let’s not sit back and relax too soon.

Based on current reporting, the figures do not look the same when it comes to EU support to low- and lower middle-income countries (LLMICs). The data shows that the EU’s target of 250 million COVID-19 vaccine doses donations by the end of the year appears to be slipping.

And a new roadblock could be developing.

The EU recently reached an agreement to reallocate some of its 2021 budget (EUR1.3 billion to be precise) to secure another 200 million COVID-19 vaccine doses for COVAX. The European Commission has published an Action Document, laying out how it will implement this commitment. The plan would be to procure mRNA vaccines and then give them to COVAX.

We were surprised to see that the Action Document states some quite big risks to this plan — “there is a very high risk of not meeting the envisaged delivery by mid-2022, as the required duration of the procedure is 9-12 months” and “the manufacturers may not respond to an unattractive call for tender for mRNA vaccines… this will cause delays to procurement.

So we posed some questions to the European Commission to try to work out why, when we know that COVAX has options available on 200 million doses that would allow for delivery by mid-2022, they choose to purchase doses themselves — a move that could delay rollout and potentially set a dangerous precedent by hindering COVAX from playing its role as a global risk mitigation instrument to continue accelerating global access to COVID-19 vaccines.

We asked President von der Leyen the following clarification questions:

  •  What evidence does the European Commission (EC) have that the EC directly purchasing vaccines would be the speedier option in terms of delivery on the ground?
  •  What rationale is there for favouring mRNA vaccines, and even using the Omicron variant’s spread as a justification, when the science on the relative effectiveness of vaccines to fight Omicron is still being determined and given that LLMICs need a range of vaccines suitable for a range of settings?
  •  What discussions have taken place with Member States on the merits of the EC’s approach and the risks outlined in the Action Document, and do Member States agree with this decision?

We have sent these questions to President von der Leyen and are waiting for her response.

Omicron is a Wake-Up Call. It is Time to Act.

The Omicron variant is not a surprise, but it should be a wake-up call. It is time to act.

In an open letter, Pandemic Action Network and more than 30 leading organizations call on world leaders to do whatever it takes to get the world vaccinated as quickly as possible and ensure every country is equipped to spot newly emerging variants, fast.

Read the full letter here.

New Study and Documentary Reveal Grim Pandemic Realities for America’s Doctors and Nurses

Frontline workers say they need more preparation, staff, and PPE and better information and diagnostics

November 18, 2021, Seattle, WA—Today, the Pandemic Action Network released new research findings revealing challenges that continue to burden doctors and nurses in the U.S. well over a year into the COVID-19 pandemic and pointing to what is required to be better prepared for this crisis and future pandemic threats. Notably, access to personal protective equipment (PPE) continues to be a problem — with nearly a third of doctors and nurses saying they did not have sufficient access to PPE, even as recently as summer 2021. Sixty-one percent felt that they did not have sufficient early warning to prepare for the COVID-19 pandemic, and despite best efforts, a third felt it was challenging to follow changing workflows and protocols.

The study, funded by Flu Lab, included a survey conducted by Klick Consulting of 532 doctors and nurses from across the U.S. The survey focused on addressing perceptions of pandemic readiness, knowledge, containment, treatment, and vaccination. Additional qualitative interviews with nearly four dozen health officials, public health workers, doctors, and nurses, revealed a stark reality: while healthcare workers are committed to caring for patients during the COVID-19 pandemic, they have faced increased personal risks and an exceptionally high work volume. And they need more support.

Dr. Carrie Tibbles, an ER physician at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, participated in this research. “Healthcare systems are really stressed right now, and the workforce is tired. Hospitals need support to build back up — and build our workforce back up — so we can take care of our communities,” said Dr. Tibbles. “The pandemic hit us so hard and in Boston, we felt the first wave shortly after New York. We were able to learn in real time from our friends and colleagues in New York and I’m confident we saved many lives as a result. But if we were armed with the tools to be better prepared for pandemics, I know we could do more.”

These stories further come to life in the new documentary, The First Wave, premiering today in New York at the DOC NYC festival and showing in select theaters tomorrow. The film focuses on the doctors, nurses, and patients from one of New York’s hardest-hit hospital systems during the “first wave” from March to June 2020. By laying bare what healthcare workers braved in hospitals flooded with COVID patients, The First Wave honors both their ongoing commitment to their patients, as well as their own personal sacrifice.

“The study results and the harrowing realities presented in The First Wave make one thing clear: we need to listen to doctors and nurses,” said Gabrielle Fitzgerald, co-founder of Pandemic Action Network. “Hailing health workers as heroes is insufficient — we must ensure they have the information and equipment to do their jobs effectively — before, during, and after a crisis.”

Survey participants expressed gratitude for the opportunity to share their perspectives. “Thank you for giving me the opportunity to share my pandemic experience and opinions… It is a rarity that we are asked about our experience,” said one participant. Another shared, “Thanks for working to improve our processes and systems for the next time this happens (hopefully never).”

“Healthcare workers around the country have been stretched to their breaking points countless times over the course of the pandemic. As a group, we have been labeled heroes, but healthcare workers are only human, and resilience is waning in the face of exhaustion and burnout,” said Dr. Kelly C. Sanders, a pediatrician and Pandemic Action Network member. Dr. Sanders also serves as the technical lead for the Pandemic Response Initiative at UCSF and co-authored a case study on the first year of the pandemic in the U.S. “As a country, if we don’t continue to improve frontline conditions, we risk losing desperately needed healthcare workers. We need to improve local vaccination rates, develop new diagnostic and treatment options, and provide more resources for our stressed public health and hospital systems. This is how the American public and decision-makers can show up for the frontline now.”

To respond to the findings of this study, Pandemic Action Network is calling on U.S. policymakers to:

  • Fully resource and accelerate the global COVID-19 response by allocating at least US$17 billion of new funding to assist the world in reaching 70 percent vaccine coverage in every country by the middle of 2022; save lives now through increased access to other lifesaving tools; and prevent future pandemics from occurring. Learn more.
  • Provide ongoing funding for surge capacity and measures that prioritize the safety and security of healthcare workers.
  • Approve the International Pandemic Preparedness and COVID-19 Response Act, in tandem with the Global Health Security Act to strengthen America’s cross-government coordination on pandemic preparedness and response and bolster our support for global preparedness.
  • Approve legislation to strengthen America’s Strategic National Stockpile to ensure adequate PPE and medical supplies for healthcare workers.
  • Approve the Dr. Lorna Breen Health Care Provider Protection Act to reduce and prevent suicide, burnout, and mental and behavioral health conditions among healthcare professionals.
  • Approve a resolution that would designate the first Monday in March as “COVID-19 Victims and Survivors Memorial Day” to memorialize those lost to the COVID-19 virus and recognize the suffering of COVID-19 survivors.

More details of the research and survey results can be found here.

About Pandemic Action Network

Pandemic Action Network drives collective action to end the COVID-19 crisis and to ensure the world is prepared for the next pandemic. The Network is a robust partnership of over 140 global multi-sector organizations aligned in a belief that every effort made in the fight against COVID-19 should leave a long-term legacy. One where humanity is better prepared to deal with outbreaks and prevent a deadly and costly pandemic from happening again.

About Klick Consulting
Klick Consulting solves the problems others can’t by leveraging applied sciences and novel thinking to decode healthcare’s gnarliest challenges. The consultancy embraces science at the speed of business with a specific focus on commercial solutions with real-world applications. With its diverse team of medical, behavioral science, data science, engineering, business model, machine learning, and strategic design experts, the multidisciplinary, collaborative group resolves business problems through a scientific lens. Klick Consulting works with companies across the healthcare spectrum, including consumer wellness, pharmaceutical, device manufacturers, insurers, health systems, and providers.

CONTACT:
Courtney Morris (U.S. west coast)
[email protected]

Jaryd Leady (U.S. east coast)
[email protected]

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Announcing the Pandemic Action Network Ambassadors Program

We all feel it — the widespread desire and urgency to move on from the pandemic that has engulfed our lives for nearly the past two years. But we will only move on when the work is done and the work is far from over. COVID-19 continues to rage around the world and leaders have yet to take the bold actions needed to ensure we are better prepared and protected from future pandemic threats. In the cycle of “panic and neglect,” — defined by initial response to the crisis, but failing to act on long-term lessons and actually change the contributing factors of the crisis — we are teetering on neglect.

Pandemic Action Network was built to ensure that we not only end this crisis for everyone around the world, but to prevent the old cycle of “panic and neglect” from happening again. To achieve these goals, our partnership of over 140 diverse organizations is working to create the ongoing political will needed for action.

Numbers and research insights are helpful, but alone they are not enough to drive leaders to do what must be done to end this crisis and prevent the next pandemic. Leaders need personal reasons to act — they need to hear the personal stories, experiences, and challenges of the ongoing realities of living through this pandemic because, while many want to look at COVID in the rear-view mirror, we know that this crisis is far from over and will persist without action.

That’s why we are launching our new Pandemic Action Network Ambassadors Program.

Pandemic Action Ambassadors come in many forms — those who worked on the frontlines, parents balancing child care alongside their day job, people who have lost loved ones, people who have lost livelihoods, and those who have seen the impact of political inaction. Pandemic Action Ambassadors are people who care, people who are willing to stand up and speak up about the urgency of ending this crisis, building systems at every level to prepare humanity for future health threats, and learning the lessons of this pandemic.

We invite these people to come together and share their personal experiences to help us advance COVID-19 response and pandemic preparedness. Along with a community of other Ambassadors, you will receive monthly emails with small but impactful ways to take action, the opportunity to connect with one another and engage in critical advocacy efforts. The priority application window is open through Tuesday, November 30 at 11:59pm ET. Apply now!

Your story and your voice are key to driving the progress we so desperately need. Together, we have the power to end this crisis and prevent the next pandemic.

Calling on U.S. Secretary of State Blinken and Foreign Ministers to take Concrete Action on COVID-19 Response and Pandemic Preparedness

In an open letter, Pandemic Action Network and nearly 40 international partners call on U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and fellow Foreign Ministers participating in the Nov. 10 Ministerial Meeting to make specific, time-bound commitments and take concrete steps to end the COVID-19 crisis and build back better from this pandemic.

With a focus on the need for a clear roadmap of concrete actions, timelines, and accountability to accelerate progress toward the global targets of vaccinating 70% of the population in every country by mid-2022, expanded delivery of other lifesaving response needs, and strengthened pandemic finance and governance, the letter specifically calls for ministers to:

  1. Divert COVID-19 vaccine production and delivery at scale with full transparency in 2021
  2. Commit to fully finance the global COVID-19 response and to prepare for future pandemic threats
  3. Ramp up and increase transparency of global supply and delivery of vaccines, tests, treatments, oxygen, PPE, and other COVID-19 tools, and strengthen supply chains and pharmacovigilance
  4. Prioritize strengthening country-level distribution and delivery capabilities in a manner that addresses current needs and future health system resilience
  5. Unlock special drawing rights (SDRs) for the global response & recovery
  6. Increase transparency and tracking from inputs to outcomes

The world cannot wait any longer for action to end this pandemic and help prevent the next one. Read the full letter.

Civil Society Recommendations for the Final Stage of the 2022 European Union Budget Negotiations

COVID-19 is one of the worst global health emergencies this world has ever seen, and new variants continue to increase the urgency of quickly minimizing the virus’ spread. Significantly more funding is needed for the global fight against COVID-19. The Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator (ACT-A) is still facing a US$16.4 billion funding gap for 2021, and the latest estimates anticipate that it will cost at least US$50-66 billion to fully vaccinate the world — likely much more when end-to-end delivery costs are factored in. The European Union (EU) has shown global leadership and solidarity committing €500 million in grants to support global access to vaccines. However, not all of these commitments have been turned into actual payments yet.

Time is of the essence: the EU must mobilize those resources without delay.

The fight against COVID-19 must not be funded to the detriment of other global health and human development priorities or we will be trading off one crisis for another. More than 2 billion people remain affected by diseases such as HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria, and neglected tropical diseases. COVID-19 has also posed an unprecedented shock to human development, which is on course to decline for the first time in three decades.

This is why civil society organizations (CSOs) have identified four priority budget lines that play a vital role in mitigating the effects of the pandemic and are urging the EU to protect them in the conciliation period. Ahead of the vote in the European Parliament Plenary, the CSOs support the amendments laid out in a set of recommendations to restore the Draft Budget for 2022, reverting the cuts made by the Council. Read the recommendations here.

Statement from the Pandemic Action Network on the Global COVID-19 Summit: Ending the Pandemic and Building Back Better to Prepare for the Next

Pandemic Action Network welcomes the leadership of President Biden and the United States Government in hosting today’s Global COVID-19 Summit. The purpose of today’s event was to secure commitments to take action on the Summit goals and targets. The Network thanks all of the leaders who joined and made commitments to achieve the Summit’s goals to get 70% of the population in every country vaccinated within 12 months, to step up efforts to deliver lifesaving oxygen, therapeutics, tests, and personal protective equipment to patients and health workers on the frontlines of the pandemic, and to scale up investments and strengthen the international system to ensure the world is better prepared to prevent, detect, and respond to future pandemic threats.

Among the new announcements today — that will serve as critical first steps toward the bolder, coordinated global action needed — include: The U.S. pledge to purchase and donate an additional 500 million Pfizer vaccine doses for low- and middle-income countries, bringing the total number of vaccines to be donated globally by the U.S. to 1.1 billion; the establishment of an EU-US task force to work together toward the 70% target, and EU commitment to ensure 1 in 2 doses produced in Europe will be exported to the rest of the world; U.S. commitment of  US$345 million for the global COVID-19 response; U.S. plans to provide US$1 billion to establish a new fund for global health security; and new commitments by philanthropies Skoll Foundation (US$100 million) and Pax Sapiens (US$200 million) to bolster pandemic prevention, preparedness, and response.

Pandemic Action Network co-founder Eloise Todd said:

“The success of this Summit will be judged by what happens next. We urge leaders to use every tool at their disposal to map out where every country is right now, and what finances and logistics are needed to deliver jabs in arms faster, getting us over the line to 70% vaccination coverage in each country, while ensuring access for all for lifesaving tests, treatments, oxygen and PPE along the way. Piecemeal actions are no longer enough. This crisis demands not only commitment, but a coordinated global plan and leadership. To end the COVID-19 crisis in 2022, we need to do whatever it takes — and we will hold leaders to account to make it happen.”

Pandemic Action co-founder Carolyn Reynolds said:

“Today’s Summit was a critical reset of the world’s ambition to end this pandemic for all as quickly as possible, and to start making the necessary investments now to bolster our collective defenses to prevent the next deadly and costly pandemic from happening. But we are in a race against time. There has been a collective failure to date to solve this crisis and treat pandemics as the grave threat they are to global security. We need urgent, bold, and concrete action, and we need it now. We welcome President Biden’s plan to host another summit early next year to make sure the world is on track to achieve the Summit goals and targets. We stand ready to work with all leaders to ensure that this Summit leaves a legacy to pandemic proof the world once and for all.”

In advance of today’s Summit, Pandemic Action Network brought more than 60 groups together around a common position on what’s needed to end this crisis. At today’s Summit, on behalf of our Network, we committed to two things:

1. On the COVID-19 response, we will work with our partners and with leaders to ensure the commitments made today are delivered through a global action plan to do whatever it takes to fully vaccinate 70% of the population in every country in less than 12 months — and at least 40% by the end of this year.

To get there, we must dramatically ramp up support now for vaccine donations, manufacturing, and delivery; development and deployment of testing and treatments, oxygen and PPE; and a strong frontline health workforce to reach the most vulnerable communities.

2. To build back better, we commit to help mobilize the political support and resources necessary to establish a new fund for global health security and a new Global Health Threats Council. We will convene and tap the deep expertise and capabilities in our Network across sectors to inform their design and ensure they are inclusive, accountable, and sustainably funded, commensurate with the threat.

Experts Call on World Leaders to Commit to a Global Plan of Attack on COVID at Summit

More than 60 Leading Organizations across Civil Society, Academia, Philanthropy, Health, and Social Enterprise Define a 6-Point Plan to End the Global COVID-19 Crisis

September 20, 2021, Seattle, WA – This week, hosted by the United States, world leaders will gather virtually for the Global COVID-19 Summit: Ending The Pandemic And Building Back Better. According to a group of experts convened by the Pandemic Action Network, the summit is an opportunity to kickstart a global coordinated response plan. As the pandemic persists and the gap between the vaccine haves and have nots grows larger, the Network and partners from around the world welcomes the summit and the targets defined by the Biden Administration, but warns that without specific, concrete action driven by transparent leadership and accountability, we will see millions more COVID-19 infections, deaths, and chances for virus mutations. The Framework for a Global Action Plan for COVID-19 Response, backed by 61 organizations, outlines a 6-point global plan of attack to deliver on the summit targets.

“We are 18 months into this crisis, and we still don’t have a global plan to address this global pandemic,” said Eloise Todd, co-founder of Pandemic Action Network. “This year’s UN General Assembly and the Biden Administration’s summit must be a step change to how we are tackling this crisis. We need leaders to attend this summit, commit to ensuring that 40% of the world’s population gets vaccinated by the end of the year and 70% by mid-2022. Leaders must roll up their sleeves to take the action needed, delivering all the tests, treatments, PPE, and of course vaccines to achieve this ambition. This pandemic is incubating the next one — it’s time to do whatever it takes to end the COVID crisis for everyone in 2022.”

“The staggering global inequality in vaccine access is costing lives, fracturing the world even more, and compromising global cooperation in all other critical areas such as climate change,” said Pascal Lamy. “Vaccinating the world is a solvable problem. But it will require much stronger coordinated action to correct the course and put us firmly on track to end the devastating effects of the pandemic. We’ve defined what must be done, and we now need leadership and accountability.”

Pascal Lamy is President of the Paris Peace Forum and former director-general of the WTO, and one of the 20 individuals and more than 60 organizations that have signed on to the framework, including Care, the CDC Foundation, the Future Africa Forum, Global Citizen, the International Rescue Committee, ONE, PATH, Sabin Vaccine Institute, Save the Children, the United Nations Foundation, VillageReach, and Women in Global Health as well as the Paris Peace Forum.

In order to end the COVID-19 crisis and prepare for the next, Pandemic Action Network, COVID Collaborative, multiple centers at Duke University, and more than 60 global partners are calling on world leaders to:

  1. Strengthen global leadership and accountability. Strong, sustained political leadership and accountability is needed to coordinate and galvanize the many existing multilateral and bilateral responses.
  2. Develop and implement a Global COVID-19 Response Roadmap. Leaders should develop and agree to an end-to-end, fully costed roadmap to end the acute phase of the COVID-19 pandemic, which should include specific, timebound commitments and steps.
  3. Empower a Global Task Force for Supply Chain and Manufacturing. This Task Force should be part of the global leadership framework and should expand production of vaccine inputs, vaccines, diagnostics, therapeutics, and other life-saving interventions.
  4. Accelerate sharing of vaccines and other life-saving interventions.
  5. Prioritize strengthening country-level distribution and delivery capabilities. Recognizing that country-level distribution, delivery, and demand-generation are quickly becoming the key constraints in the race between vaccines and variants.
  6. Increase multi-year financing for the pandemic response and preparedness in low- and middle-income countries. Funding must be additional and must match the scope and urgency of the COVID-19 response and close critical global gaps in pandemic preparedness.

 

“We are in a race against time. The world has the resources and the ingenuity to end the COVID-19 crisis, but we need leaders to step up to meet the moment with the urgency that it deserves,” said Gary Edson, president of the COVID Collaborative.

“This is about leadership and accountability. If the global COVID-19 response remains rudderless and fragmented, without real levers for accountability, all well-meaning commitments will have little impact,” added Krishna Udayakumar, founding director of the Duke Global Health Innovation Center.

The full framework with a 6-point action plan is available here.

About Pandemic Action Network

Pandemic Action Network drives collective action to end the COVID-19 crisis and to ensure the world is prepared for the next pandemic. The Network is a robust partnership of over 140 global multi-sector organizations aligned in a belief that every effort made in the fight against COVID-19 should leave a long-term legacy. One where humanity is better prepared to deal with outbreaks and prevent a deadly and costly pandemic from happening again. Learn more at: pandemicactionnetwork.org.

About Paris Peace Forum

For the fourth consecutive year, the Paris Peace Forum brings together the most important players in collective intelligence. Heads of state and government and CEOs of major multinationals, as well as several civil society actors, will gather for a unique hybrid edition from November 11 to 13 to advance concrete solutions to the enormous challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, and to improve global governance post COVID.

About COVID Collaborative

The COVID Collaborative is a national assembly of experts, leaders and institutions in health, education, and the economy and associations representing the diversity of the country to turn the tide on the pandemic by supporting global, federal, state, and local COVID-19 response efforts. COVID Collaborative includes expertise from across Republican and Democratic administrations at the federal, state and local levels, including former FDA commissioners, CDC directors, and U.S. surgeon generals; former U.S. secretaries of Education, Homeland Security, Defense and Health and Human Services; leading public health experts and institutions that span the country; leading business groups and CEOs; groups representing historically excluded populations; major global philanthropies; and associations representing those on the frontlines of public health and education.

About Duke Global Health Innovation Center, Duke-Margolis Center for Health Policy, Duke Global Health Institute

The Duke Global Health Innovation Center, Duke-Margolis Center for Health Policy, and Duke Global Health Institute work cooperatively to synthesize research on global and public health and advance evidence-based policies that support strong public health systems at all levels of government. Work on this initiative represents the individual expertise of the researchers involved and not necessarily the views of the administration of Duke University.

G20 health Ministers’ Meeting — What Happened? What’s Next?

DESPITE PROMISING STATEMENTS OF COOPERATION, VERY LITTLE WAS AGREED UPON DURING THE G20 HEALTH MINISTERS’ MEETING AND WHAT COMES NEXT TO TURN COMMITMENTS INTO ACTION REMAINS UNCLEAR. 

In advance of the two-day gathering of Health Ministers from the Group of Twenty (G20) in Rome, Italy’s health minister Roberto Speranza, holding the G20 presidency this year, said the event was an occasion to strengthen international relations and work for fairer COVID-19 vaccine distribution.

While the G20 Health Ministers’ declaration contains encouraging messages of strong multilateral cooperation to end the pandemic and enhance timely, equitable, and global access to safe, affordable, and effective COVID-19 vaccines, therapeutics and diagnostics, very little was agreed in terms of concrete steps needed to turn these promises into a reality.

Here are some of our main take-aways:

“Pact” on achieving vaccine equity

Countries committed themselves in the so-called “Rome Pact” to providing the entire world population with access to COVID-19 vaccines. Speaking after the meeting, Italian Health Minister Speranza told journalists, “if we leave part of the world without vaccines, we risk new variants which will hurt all of us.” He promised that efforts would be strengthened bilaterally and through international platforms starting from COVAX.

We welcome the Ministers’ commitment to continue their efforts to meet the World Health Organization’s (WHO) goal to vaccinate at least 40% of the world’s population by the end of 2021 and continue to support collaborative initiatives, such as the Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator (ACT-A) and COVAX as well as important global research and innovation initiatives as the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI). We still have a long way to go — the WHO Director-General has said that while 5 billion vaccines have been administered worldwide, almost 75 percent of these doses have been administered in just 10 countries.

Most high-income countries have bought significantly more doses than needed to cover domestic vaccination needs. We need these countries to donate at least 1 billion vaccine doses as soon as possible, and 2 billion doses by the end of 2021, if this goal is to be achieved. We welcome Germany’s announcement on the sidelines of the meeting to make 100 million vaccine doses available for the international inoculation campaign before the end of the year, and call on others to swiftly follow suit.

Financing for pandemic preparedness and response

According to the Health Ministers’ declaration, proposals on sustainable financing to strengthen future pandemic preparedness and response are being drafted to be presented at the G20 Joint Finance and Health Ministers’ meeting in October. Immediate and multi-year funding commitments for the pandemic response in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) must match the scope and urgency of the need. We must urgently establish a financing mechanism to channel and direct the additional funding required for the current pandemic response to where it is most needed, and to jumpstart funding for preparedness for emerging pandemic threats. Read more on the call for a new global financing mechanism that provides robust and sustained investments in pandemic prevention, preparedness, and response in this policy brief.

One Health approach

On a positive note, there was agreement on adopting a ‘One Health’ approach in responding to future health emergencies, i.e., recognizing that human, animal, and environmental health are interlinked and determinant of our wellbeing. According to the Ministers’ declaration, the WHO, World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE), Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), and UN Environment Programme (UNEP) are to work on a joint work plan on ‘One Health’ to improve prevention, monitoring, detection, control, and containment of zoonotic disease outbreaks.

Vaccine education

There is an abundance of great research, information, and approaches to vaccine education, yet efforts to address vaccine hesitancy and build vaccine confidence can be fragmented and siloed. Catalyzing vaccine confidence requires action across the world by diverse stakeholders, active inclusion, and feedback loops with local implementers. Therefore we welcome the ministerial declaration’s emphasis on the need to promote vaccine confidence “by implementing the most effective, culturally appropriate, and science-based public communication and listening strategies tailored to the context of communities at the local level, to combating misinformation and disinformation, and instilling trust in public institutions and experts.”

Implications for the G20 Leaders’ Summit

The G20 Health Ministers’ meeting was one of the last G20 ministerial gatherings before the Leaders’ Summit in Rome on 30 and 31 October. We urgently need strengthened global leadership and accountability; and expect the next joint Health and Finance ministerial and the G20 Leaders’ Summit at the end of October to produce solid commitments on the following issues:

  1. Building strong political leadership for the global COVID-19 response by setting out a fully-costed Global COVID-19 Response Roadmap with specific time-bound commitments to help drive us to the end of the pandemic — full details are defined in our Framework for a Global Action Plan for COVID-19 Response;
  2. Sharing doses at scale and donating entire production slots where feasible, to accelerate global immunity, starting with the donation of excess doses as soon as possible;
  3. Delivering meaningful finance at scale to tackle the global pandemic, including looking to free up as much as possible of the IMF’s US$650B in Special Drawing Rights (SDRs) to low-income countries and to contribute to funding the global COVID-19 response.

We wholeheartedly agree with Minister Speranza when he calls the vaccine a ‘key to freedom’. But we urgently need leaders to focus on ensuring that this ‘key’ is accessible to everyone, not only those in G20 countries.

World Mask Week 2021 Catalyzes a Global Movement to Continue Masking Up

People, leaders, and organizations around the world rallied behind the ongoing importance of wearing a mask to stop the spread of COVID-19 and end the pandemic for all!

Pandemic Action Network, the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC), the African Union, 3M, and more than 70 partner organizations launched World Mask Week 2021 with two goals in mind. First to unite the globe around a simple message: masking in public is still one of the best ways we can protect ourselves and others against COVID-19. The second, to show gratitude for those who have masked throughout this pandemic and continue to do so via the message #ThanksForMasking.

World Mask Week came at a pivotal time in the COVID-19 pandemic, with the Delta variant fueling Africa’s third wave, record numbers of cases in countries around the world, and increased spread from Indonesia and Bangladesh to Colombia and South Africa. The campaign was made even more relevant as the U.K. and U.S., countries with relatively high vaccination rates, debated masking guidance and reopening despite a marked increase in cases.

Over the course of one week — July 12-18 — World Mask Week met the moment.:

 

Beyond the conversation taking place on social media, Forbes published a strong piece about the importance of continued masking and featured quotes from Pandemic Action Network co-founder Eloise Todd alongside partner content. In addition, Triple Pundit made the business case for ongoing masking noting that “World Mask Week shouldn’t just be a 2020 or 2021 thing. Wearing masks has become one of the most effective ways to stall the spread of diseases, and companies seeking to check some ESG boxes would be wise to support such a global effort.”

What now?
While World Mask Week turned up the volume of this urgent issue, we still need clear and consistent masking guidance at the national level in order to stop the spread of COVID-19. The Pandemic Action team published a policy briefing called “Why Masking Still Matters” that includes key messaging regarding the importance of continued masking and recommendations for governments, businesses, and individuals. This document will drive Network-wide ongoing advocacy efforts to accelerate clear and consistent masking guidance.

Overall, we learned that responding with urgency is worth it. People around the world — especially those who are bearing the brunt of this raging pandemic — are eager to engage and be a voice for the importance of masking up alongside other interventions such as handwashing, physical distancing, and getting vaccinated when vaccines are available.

Thank you to all of our partners for their dedication to doing whatever it takes to keep the world safe from COVID-19. #ThanksForMasking.

For more information, visit worldmaskweek.com.

Your Pandemic Story Matters — Apply for a Pandemic Storytelling Workshop with The Moth

We’ve learned many things during the pandemic, but one is the importance of storytelling and consistent messaging. A compelling story can move people to action, while disinformation can put people’s lives at risk. This means that honing our individual ability to deliver a message can actually help end this pandemic and better prepare for, or even prevent, the next.

But, are we equipped to tell stories that will move decisionmakers to action? As policymakers and advocates respond and analyze the impact of the pandemic, we often talk about big metrics — GDP and job loss numbers — but those analyses fail to account for the individual, social, and economic impact of this global crisis.

Now is the time to sharpen our storytelling skills and amplify community-level experiences and lessons learned. The Moth, in partnership with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Pandemic Action Network, are holding three free-of-charge virtual storytelling workshops to amplify community-level stories from the pandemic’s frontlines. 

If you have a passion for storytelling that can make a difference and a frontline experience from the COVID-19 pandemic, we invite you to learn more and apply.

Please note that the deadline application has passed. To stay in the loop for more opportunities this like this, sign up for our Pandemic Action Playbook. 

Wearing A Mask Still Matters: The World Rallies to Continue Masking to Stop the Spread of COVID-19

World Mask Week (July 12-18) is a global movement to encourage continued mask-wearing to reach the end of the COVID-19 pandemic

July 12, 2021, Seattle, WA—Pandemic Action Network, the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC), the African Union, 3M and over 50 global, regional, and local partner organizations announced today the launch of World Mask Week 2021 (July 12-18) — a global campaign underlining a universal truth: masking in public, in combination with handwashing and physical distancing, is still one of the best ways we can protect ourselves and others against COVID-19, especially our most vulnerable community members as countries race to vaccinate their populations.

According to WHO, 2021 is already a deadlier year in the pandemic than 2020. Today, we are seeing a two-track pandemic emerge: some regions are up against the spread of variants and rising case numbers, while others with access to vaccines are lifting masking and other public health restrictions.

“Everyone who has worn a mask in public has helped slow the spread of COVID-19,” said Deputy Director of the Africa CDC, Dr. Ahmed Ogwell Ouma. “As the pandemic continues to spread and access to vaccines has been slow across much of Africa, we must fight against pandemic fatigue and continue to do what we can to keep everyone safe.”

The campaign encourages people and organizations around the world to rally behind the continued importance of wearing a mask. People will be asked to show their support by sharing a statement on social media with #WorldMaskWeek, and a picture, or video with their favorite mask, tagging others with the message of “Thanks For Masking”.

“The pandemic is not over. We should rightly recognize and encourage our progress, but we must also put our expertise to work and stay vigilant in fighting the pandemic,” said Dr. Denise Rutherford, Senior Vice President and Chief Corporate Affairs Officer, 3M. “3M and our team members will continue to do our part. We are proud to participate in World Mask Week because when you wear a mask, you are helping protect the most vulnerable. To all who are doing their part to stop the spread of COVID-19, we thank you.”

Face coverings block the spray of droplets from sneezing, coughing, talking, singing, or shouting when worn over the mouth and nose. Consistent mask-wearing can also reduce the spread of the virus among people who are infected with COVID-19, but do not have symptoms, or are unaware they have it. While a COVID-19 vaccine will prevent serious illness and death, the extent to which it keeps people from being infected and passing the virus on to others is still emerging.

“Last year, with the first World Mask Week, we sparked a global movement in 117 countries to wear masks. This year, as the pandemic persists in much of the world, we’re coming together around the message that masking still matters and to show gratitude for those who have worn a mask and continue to mask up,” said Eloise Todd, Co-Founder of the Network. “In order to end this pandemic for everyone, we must deploy all the tools available around the world to fight COVID-19 – and that includes mask-wearing.” To mark the urgency of this moment, Pandemic Action Network has released a Why Masking Still Matters policy brief including key messaging and recommendations for governments, businesses, and individuals.

Pandemic Action Network was launched in April 2020 to drive collective action to help bring an end to COVID-19 and to ensure the world is prepared for the next pandemic. Since launching, the Network has been working with influencers to promote mask-wearing, along with physical distancing and handwashing. World Mask Week provides the opportunity for global unity around a single message: Let’s keep masking — not just for ourselves, but for our families, our communities, those who are most vulnerable, and the world.

For more information about World Mask Week, please visit worldmaskweek.com.

About Pandemic Action Network
Pandemic Action Network drives collective action to bring an end to COVID-19 and to ensure the world is prepared for the next pandemic. The Network consists of more than 100 global multi-sector partners, working both publicly and behind the scenes to inform policy, mobilize public support and resources, and catalyze action in areas of acute need. Partners are aligned in a belief that every effort made in the fight against COVID-19 should leave a longer-term legacy that better prepares humanity to deal with outbreaks and help prevent another deadly and costly pandemic from happening again. Learn more at: pandemicactionnetwork.org.

About the African Union
The African Union leads Africa’s development and integration in close collaboration with African Union Member States, the regional economic communities and African citizens. The vision of the African Union is to accelerate progress towards an integrated, prosperous and inclusive Africa, at peace with itself, playing a dynamic role in the continental and global arena, effectively driven by an accountable, efficient and responsive Commission. Learn more at: au.int/en.

About the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention
Africa CDC is a specialized technical institution of the African Union that strengthens the capacity and capability of Africa’s public health institutions as well as partnerships to detect and respond quickly and effectively to disease threats and outbreaks, based on data-driven interventions and programs. Learn more at: africacdc.org.

About 3M
At 3M, we apply science in collaborative ways to improve lives daily as our employees connect with customers all around the world. Learn more about 3M’s creative solutions to global challenges at: 3M.com or on Twitter @3M or @3MNews.

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Take Action for World Mask Week 2021!

A global movement to encourage continued masking to reach the end of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Pandemic Action Network is partnering up with the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC), the African Union, the World Health Organization, 3M, 50+ other organizations, and countless community leaders around the world to launch World Mask Week 2021 (July 12-18). In case you missed it, #WorldMaskWeek is a movement to encourage sustained mask-wearing to help bring us closer to ending the COVID-19 pandemic, especially for our most vulnerable community members as countries race to vaccinate their populations.

This year, World Mask Week comes as 2021’s pandemic-related deaths surpass those in 2020, variants spread and mutate daily, and a two-track pandemic has emerged — where some regions are up against the spread of variants and rising case numbers, while others with access to vaccines are lifting masking and other public health restrictions (albeit prematurely). On top of these barriers, we are also fighting against pandemic fatigue. We get it. People are tired and the COVID-19 pandemic represents compounding crises and hardship at every level. However, the simple act of covering your face through proper masking could mean protecting your loved ones and yourself as the pandemic persists. 

We know that mask-wearing can reduce the spread of COVID-19. While COVID-19 vaccines help prevent serious illness and death, the extent to which vaccines keep us safe from being infected and passing the virus to others is still emerging. We need to take care of each other and stay focused on what keeps us safe. Masking in public, in combination with handwashing and physical distancing, is still one of the best ways we can protect ourselves and others against COVID-19.

World Mask Week is a time for individuals and organizations alike to rally behind the continued importance of wearing a mask. An act as simple as posting a statement, a photo, or a video with your favorite mask and tagging #ThanksforMasking can show support, reinforce the importance of continued masking, and help propel the movement forward. Through the power of connectivity and social media, we can thank one another and do our part by masking for ourselves, our friends, and our families to protect each other and end the COVID-19 pandemic.

Take action for World Mask Week! The World Mask Week campaign social media toolkit is publicly-available and contains creative assets to help you join the movement and stop the spread of COVID-19.

Join us today by sharing a photo of yourself in your favorite mask and tagging someone to say #ThanksforMasking for #WorldMaskWeek!

Civil Society Leaders Urge Kristalina Georgieva to Do ‘Whatever It Takes’ to Vaccinate the World

Dear Kristalina Georgieva,

We are writing from a wide range of organizations to thank you for the leadership you have shown in convening a task force to implement a roadmap to vaccinate the world. We would like to call on you to bear the following principles in mind as you take that work forward:

Draw up the plan, commit to doing whatever it takes to vaccinate at least 70% of people in all countries, and get them the tests, treatments, and PPE they need alongside vaccines. A comprehensive, coordinated strategy to get to global herd immunity as soon as possible is urgently needed. Many organizations are drawing up such plans, but you are in a position to draw all of these strands together and make sure there is a one-stop-shop costing that is not limited by numbers, mandates, or politics, but focuses on setting out what it will take to end this pandemic.

Make US$50B the floor; the ceiling will be much higher: Most existing calls for funding are focused on procurement.  Yet multiple studies show that it will take billions more on to fully deliver a global response that enables countries to deliver a COVID-19 response and mitigates the impacts of COVID-19 on the most vulnerable. Your plan needs to include a comprehensive costing and analysis covering all elements of the global response. This should identify gaps in supply, procurement, as well as resources needed in-country for the delivery of vaccines, tests, and treatments – ACT-A finance, for example, does not cover rollout costs from “tarmac to arm” of its own vaccines. Ensuring the costs needed to administer vaccines and other COVID-19 tools — including to health systems and health workers, including frontline and community health workers — are also met, so that vaccines and other tools are not just available but also delivered and administered, as part of a fully-costed global plan to reach global herd immunity.

Maximize grant funding for the global response: As you have said ‘vaccine policy is economic policy’, and until countries are vaccinated to at least 70%, all other COVID-19 tools — tests, treatments, PPE, and the ability to deliver all tools — are an integral part of the strategy. We are looking at a situation in which the best investment high-income countries (HICs) could make is investing in the global response, and they should do this from their own reserves, outside of ODA budgets. We ask that you maximize grant funding for low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) within this plan and get HICs to agree to a burden-sharing model to set out fair share contributions leveraging funding streams outside of ODA budgets.

Maximize the 650B in SDRs, frontloading whatever is possible: Your team is looking at recycling options for the 650B in SDRs. Announcements so far suggest that 100B of this might be available for LMICs. We should make as much of the 650B as possible available for LMICs to both help their domestic budget situations and fund the global deployment of COVID-19 tools as well as potentially freeing up funding for climate needs as set out in the G7 communiqué. We urge you to look at ways to free up as much of the 650B for LMICs, and to maximize the amount that can be freed up in the short term to contribute to funding the global COVID-19 response. 

Bring stakeholders into the War Room: Representatives from LMICs, health ministries, health agencies, and civil society can all help advise on your work. Bring us in, we are ready to contribute. 

We would welcome the opportunity to discuss these urgent matters with you in the coming days, at your convenience — we have no time to waste. Many thanks for your attention to these issues, and we look forward to hearing from you. 

Your sincerely,

Eloise Todd
Co-founder
Pandemic Action Network

On behalf of:


PATH

 

If your organization would like to sign on, please email Hanna Hwang

G20 Finance Ministers Urged to Fill the Huge Gaps Left by the G7 on Finance and Vaccines

Dear G20 Finance Ministers,

The G7 collectively, and most countries individually, have so far failed to absorb the necessity of collective global action and investment. We cannot afford to continue with the piecemeal approach that has characterized the global response until now. We are therefore writing to you in advance of your G20 Finance Ministerial meeting so that by 9-10 July you can take actions that will: fill the gaps left by the G7 on urgent dose-sharing, increase transparency to facilitate efficient tracking and accountability in this crisis, and come up with credible financing to back the emerging plan from Kristalina Georgieva to vaccinate the world.

Firstly, on dose sharing, the G7 pledge to share 870 million doses over the next year is far from the quantity requested by the WHO and lacks solidarity given the third wave that is building momentum in many under-vaccinated regions. Dose-sharing is urgently needed, not as a long-term solution, but to plug the immediate vaccine supply gap in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). We need G20 countries to fill COVAX’s gap for this summer. The majority of the dose-sharing announced at the G7 Summit will not be delivered till well into 2022. Therefore, we call on you not to let the meeting finish before the G20 have collectively found the doses needed to fill COVAX’s supply shortage — 275 million doses for June alone — and we are reiterating the call for 1 billion doses to be shared by the end of August 2021.

Secondly, we need bolder agreements for the medium term and absolute transparency on vaccine supply. In order to shine a light on what is going wrong in vaccine supply and create better understanding of the system, as well as sharing doses now to fill the COVAX supply gap, we also ask that you:

– plan to share at least 1 billion doses by the end of August and at least 2 billion doses by the end of the year, which must be counted as an addition to current ODA levels and global development priorities;

– clearly commit to share all of your excess doses by Q1 2022; and,

– publish a detailed month-by-month timeline to the end of 2022 of doses promised and doses actually delivered and publish the prices the G20 and COVAX have paid for doses.

We know that G7 countries alone have bought three billion more doses than they need to fully vaccinate their entire population to 70%, but the G7 pledge provided only enough doses to vaccinate 10.3% of the population in LMICs. Since we sent these letters to each of you individually, head of the WTO Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala called for the G20 to give 3bn doses when they meet – this is exactly the kind of ambition and action we need right now to get this response on track.

Thirdly, it is vital that Finance Ministers commit to backing a fully-costed, coordinated, and comprehensive Global Roadmap to Vaccinate the World covering end-to-end finance for vaccines, tests, treatments and PPE, dose donations, and tech and patent policies. Kristalina Georgieva has committed to developing a roadmap — we want to see the G20 Finance Ministers commit to financing such a roadmap. Latest estimates anticipate that it will cost at least US$50-66B simply to provide doses to vaccinate the world. We want a comprehensive plan that covers tests, treatments, PPE, and vaccines — as well as covering end-to-end delivery costs so that vaccines and other COVID-19 tools are not left on the tarmac and can be delivered. This will require innovative solutions using Special Drawing Rights (SDRs) in the medium term but also scaling grant funding now. We welcome the G7’s recent commitment to reallocate their new SDRs to the poorest and most vulnerable countries struggling to tackle COVID-19, health systems, hunger, education, and economic fallout of the pandemic. We now urge the G20 to reallocate most, if not all, of their new SDRs to vulnerable countries by the end of the year, to support health and climate in particular, and an equitable and green recovery, and ask that countries publicly share how much they will contribute to this goal.

We can no longer afford to wait to take concrete action to end COVID-19, and we hope the G20 can deliver the leadership the world needs. We are counting on you to take immediate action to fill the vaccine gap now and to fund the plan to vaccinate the world.

Vaccine policy is economic policy, and until countries are vaccinated to at least 70%, all other COVID-19 tools — tests, treatments, PPE, and the ability to deliver all tools — are an integral part of the vaccination strategy. We are counting on you to fill the dose gap, deliver the COVID-19 tools we need, and find the funding so we can stop the spread and save lives. We are counting on you and your fellow Ministers to take the urgent steps needed now to help protect us all. We would welcome the opportunity to discuss these issues with you in the coming days, at your convenience.

Many thanks for your urgent attention to these matters, and we look forward to hearing from you.

Your sincerely,


PATH
 
 

Statement on the Introduction of New U.S. Senate Legislation on International Pandemic Preparedness and COVID-19 Response

Pandemic Action Network welcomes the bipartisan introduction of the International Pandemic Preparedness and COVID-19 Response Act of 2021 (S. 2297) in the U.S. Senate. This bill represents a critical coming together across party lines to step up U.S. global leadership both on the global COVID-19 response and on preparedness to create a world that is better equipped to detect, prevent, and respond to emerging pandemic threats.

“Pandemic Action Network and our more than 120 partners in the United States and around the globe applaud the bipartisan leadership of Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Menendez and Ranking Member Risch to introduce this urgently needed legislation to bolster U.S. global leadership in the COVID-19 response and to help ensure that the world is better organized, better resourced, and better prepared to halt future pandemics,” said Carolyn Reynolds, Co-Founder, Pandemic Action Network. “America will not be safe from COVID-19 or the next deadly and costly global health threat until everyone around the world is safe ― and the next pandemic will not wait. The Menendez-Risch bill rightly sets pandemic preparedness as a top priority for our national and global security.”

As introduced, S.2297 would strengthen the U.S response to the global COVID-19 pandemic to bring an end to this global health and economic crisis. The legislation heeds Pandemic Action Network’s call for a global vaccine roadmap and requires a detailed strategy to accelerate global vaccine distribution for countries most in need. The bill also directs the Biden Administration to work with international partners to establish a new Fund for Global Health Security, which will significantly bolster public and private investments to help low-and-middle-income countries close critical gaps in pandemic prevention, detection, and response. The Fund embraces the calls by the Pandemic Action Network for the establishment of a new, enduring, and catalytic international financing mechanism, and the Network is pleased to see strong alignment to prioritize pandemic financing across the Administration, U.S. House of Representatives, the G20, and now the U.S. Senate bill. The Network is also pleased that the bill seeks to elevate leadership and coordination for international pandemic preparedness activities within the U.S. Government and authorizes U.S. participation in, and funding for, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), a global initiative to develop new vaccines for epidemic and pandemic threats, including COVID-19 variants.

“This new Senate legislation is an important step to address the longstanding underinvestment in public health systems and pandemic preparedness that allowed COVID-19 to spiral into a global crisis that continues to devastate people around the world,” Reynolds said. “Congress and the Executive Branch must act without delay to ramp up investments to strengthen the  national and global defenses necessary to pandemic proof the planet, commensurate with this growing threat. We have no time to waste.”

 

Transparency Guidelines for the Global Roadmap to Vaccinate the World

As the G7 leaders gather this weekend, civil society organizations have been fighting hard for a Global Roadmap to Vaccinate the World, which calls for an end-to-end plan to vaccinate the world to at least 70%. One of the most urgent issues will be to plug the vaccine gap in the coming months – through sharing doses, providing ambitious finance, and supporting governments to make sure the plan to get to herd immunity delivers tests and treatments to citizens and jabs in arms.

On vaccines themselves, part of the gap will be filled by dose-sharing, and part by ensuring COVAX has the means to purchase enough vaccines. As the G7 rallies around Prime Minister Johnson’s ambition to raise 1bn doses, it is vital we understand the data around what has happened so far:

1. How many doses are being produced in 2021 and who owns them?
2. How much did they cost?
3. When will they come off the production line?

G7 governments are stating that the demand to share 2bn doses in 2021 will not be possible – but the data from different sources tells a different story. For example, GAVI data shows that even accounting for universal booster shots, countries with excess supply will likely have between 1.2 billion and 4 billion doses to redistribute, especially the US & EU. The Duke university project shows that the G7 will likely have in excess of 3bn spare doses in 2021 – with 1bn definitely being a minimum in reach even when making cautious estimates. On top of that the pharma company’s own data shows that there will be 5bn doses in circulation by the end of August and suggests a staggering 11bn doses by the end of the year. There are also publicly available resources on dose deliveries such as this UNICEF dashboard which provide other figures. That’s why we need the G7 leaders to adhere to the following transparency principles as an integral part of the global vaccine roadmap:

Ensure the pharmaceutical industry publishes detailed production schedules setting out the queuing system of which vaccines will be ready for which country, by when, according to realistic production schedules

Publish a detailed month-to-month timeline to the end of 2022 of expected doses that will be produced for the G7, COVAX and other countries and institutions, showing how the G7 can collectively share doses; commit to timeframes for the delivery to fill the urgent vaccine supply gap building towards providing 2bn doses by the end of 2021

Publish a tracker of doses promised and doses actually delivered (when, where, via which sharing mechanism)setting out clearly confirmed contracts vs. options

Publish the prices that doses have been bought at for COVAX, the AU and other LMICs, and set out what ‘not-for-profit’ pricing must be for future purchases for those in LMICs

In light of production data, keep the door open to sharing more doses later in the year

U.S. Global Health Experts Urge G7 Action to Vaccinate the World Quickly and Equitably

Open Letter to G7 leaders proposes five-point action plan – including sharing of at least one billion doses worldwide this year and striving to vaccinate at least 60% of every country’s population in 2022

WASHINGTON – A coalition of global health experts today called on the Group of Seven (G7) leaders to share at least 1 billion, and aim for 2 billion, vaccine doses to low- and middle-income countries by the end of this year, and more urgently help countries distribute and deliver vaccines quickly and equitably across their populations, striving to achieve at least 60%, and ideally 70%, vaccination coverage in every country in 2022.

President Biden and his G7 counterparts will meet at their annual summit on June 11-13 in the United Kingdom, and global vaccination efforts will be on their agenda.

In an Open Letter, representatives of four U.S.-based organizations – Center for Global Development, Center for Strategic & International Studies (CSIS), COVID Collaborative, and three units of Duke University – together with the endorsement of renowned global health experts – urged the G7 leaders and member states to use their vaccine expertise and manufacturing capacity to accelerate global access to vaccines while meeting domestic health needs.

The experts said that today’s global vaccine gap is a supply problem and also a massive distribution and delivery challenge. There are alarming gaps in vaccine distribution and delivery capacity across much of the world that require urgent attention and more resources. “Delivery capabilities and vaccine hesitancy, not supply, are likely to be the critical bottleneck to vaccinations in most low- and middle-income countries within the next 6 months,” the letter said.

The letter highlighted that G7 members have unique resources and capabilities, as well as a legacy of high-impact, collaborative leadership during past crises, and that the coming months are a critical period for leaders to address catastrophic outbreaks in many countries, preempt further growth of the virus elsewhere, and prevent the unchecked spread of the virus from spawning new variants that threaten everyone.

The coalition is asking the G7 leaders to adopt an action plan that includes the following initiatives:

  • Establish a G7 Vaccine Emergency Task Force, open to additional nations and organizations, to provide transparency, predictability, and accountability to the global sharing of vaccines and the vaccine marketplace. As G7 members develop excess vaccine supplies beyond what is needed for domestic use, accurate projections based on real-time country data will facilitate more effective and coordinated global vaccination distribution and prioritize countries with the most urgent need.
  • Develop and commit to a path to share at a minimum 1 billion doses, with the aim of 2 billion doses, of G7-authorized vaccines before the end of 2021, and ensure the availability of enough doses to enable broad vaccination in every country as soon as possible in 2022. As supply continues to increase quickly, the G7 and EU should approach dose-sharing with far greater urgency and intensified systematic planning to meet global needs.
  • Implement a coordinated G7 strategy to immediately increase production of high-quality, well-regulated vaccines, with the goal of further increasing access to these vaccines across the rest of the world. This includes addressing distribution bottlenecks, removing export restrictions and other barriers, and cooperating to provide essential raw materials, equipment and supplies over the next several months.
  • Accelerate development of high-quality globally distributed manufacturing capacity by bringing together public and private sector stakeholders and using voluntary licensing agreements, with a focus on Africa, Asia outside of India, and Latin America. This effort will require establishing cooperative agreements that provide access to financing through both public and private sources, including USDFC, IFC/World Bank and local private funding. The G7 should set a target to finalize at least five such public-private agreements by the end of 2021, each leading to the establishment of vaccine manufacturing capacity before the end of 2022.
  • Increase bilateral and multilateral technical and financial support to low- and middle-income countries to enhance their vaccine distribution and delivery capabilities, and address vaccine hesitancy, with three specific goals: achieve demonstrated national vaccination preparedness in each country by the end of 2021; strive for at least 60%, and ideally 70%, vaccination in every country in 2022; and avoid significant excess vaccine stockpiles ahead of pandemic control in all nations.

The health experts said the G7 members are on a path to contain the pandemic in their respective countries, and to meet the moment, must work to assure the fastest possible path to access to billions of doses of high-quality vaccines – and ensure local capacity to deliver them – complementing ongoing multinational efforts.

The signatories to the open letter include the following:

Amanda Glassman
Executive Vice President, Center for Global Development; CEO of CGD Europe; and Senior Fellow
J. Stephen Morrison
Senior Vice President and Director, Global Health Policy Center, Center for Strategic and International Studies
Gary Edson
President, COVID Collaborative
Mark McClellan
Director, Duke-Margolis Center for Health Policy, Duke University
Rachel Silverman
Policy Fellow, Center for Global Development
Katherine Bliss
Senior Fellow, Global Health Policy Center, Center for Strategic and International Studies
John Bridgeland
CEO, COVID Collaborative
Krishna Udayakumar
Director, Duke Global Health Innovation Center, Duke University
Prashant Yadav
Senior Fellow, Center for Global Development
Anna McCaffrey
Fellow, Global Health Policy Center, Center for Strategic and International Studies
Anjali Balakrishna
Program Director, COVID Collaborative
Michael Merson
Wolfgang Joklik Professor of Global Health, Duke Global Health Institute, Duke University

 

The following individuals have formally endorsed the letter:

Thomas J Bollyky, Senior Fellow, Council on Foreign Relations
William H. Frist, former US Senate Majority Leader
Helene Gayle, President and Chief Executive Officer, The Chicago Community Trust
Scott Gottlieb, Resident Fellow, American Enterprise Institute, and former Commissioner of the US Food and Drug Administration
Margaret (Peggy) Hamburg, former Commissioner of the US Food and Drug Administration, and former Foreign Secretary of the National Academy of Medicine
Amb [ret] Jimmy Kolker, former Assistant Secretary, Global Affairs, Department of Health and Human Services
Jack Leslie, Chairman, Weber Shandwick
Jennifer Nuzzo, Associate Professor, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health
Carolyn Reynolds, Co-Founder, Pandemic Action Network, and Senior Associate, Global Health Policy Center, CSIS

The full text of the Open Letter can be viewed here.

Now is the Time: EU Must Demonstrate the Political Leadership Needed to End the Pandemic

The COVID-19 crisis has deeply affected the world, and the effects will be felt for years to come. While scientific progress to fight the virus has been astonishing, the current level of ambition for both the COVID-19 response and what is needed to pandemic-proof the planet does not go far enough. We urge world leaders to apply the same ingenuity, political will, and public-private partnerships that brought us these novel vaccines in record time to speed up efforts to end this pandemic and act on lessons learned.

The scenes emerging from India are a painful reminder that global access to COVID-19 tools is the only way to end this pandemic quickly, and avoid countless deaths and the trillions of euros lost. The longer the virus is able to travel the world, the greater the risk of mutations and the greater the risk that the vaccines we do have will become ineffective. Yet, as of May 2021, just 0.3% of COVID-19 vaccines had been administered in low-income countries and COVID-19 deaths in low and lower-middle income countries (LMICs) now account for 30.7% of global deaths, compared to 9.3% a month ago.

At the Global Health Summit this week and the EU leaders summit next week, the EU and its Member States must urgently offer the political leadership needed to deliver vaccines across the world and develop a global roadmap to vaccinate the world. They must coordinate globally so that all efforts to deliver COVID-19 vaccines are costed and mapped, mutually reinforced, and avoid duplication.

As part of this global plan, the EU and its Member States must contribute to fully funding the $18.5 billion gap of the ACT-Accelerator in 2021 and ensuring a fair distribution between the Therapeutics, Diagnostics and Vaccines Pillars, as well as the Health System Connector. Every Member State should contribute its fair share, and the European Commission should contribute at least an additional €1.2 billion. In addition, EU Member States must immediately contribute to the call for high-income countries to share 1 billion vaccine doses by September and 2 billion by the end of the year. EU Member States will have at least 690 million doses more than they need to vaccinate 100% of their populations, and in many  Member States, the supply of COVID-19 vaccines will soon outstrip demand. Several Member States have stepped up with commitments to share doses, and other leaders should urgently follow in their footsteps.

Fully funding ACT-A and sharing vaccine doses are only two, yet essential, elements of the global roadmap to vaccinate the world. The EU must also support all means necessary to increase global supply of COVID-19 tools, including through increasing vaccine manufacturing capacity as soon as possible.

Advocates will be watching whether the EU seizes the opportunity of the Global Health Summit and upcoming European Council to offer the political leadership that has been so desperately needed since the beginning of the pandemic.

Seizing the “Chernobyl Moment”: Actioning the Independent Panel’s Report Over the Next 100 Days to Make This the Last Pandemic

Last week’s release of the report by the Independent Panel for Pandemic Preparedness and Response’s (Independent Panel): COVID-19: Make it the Last Pandemic comes at arguably one of the most complex and challenging times in the global COVID-19 crisis.

Just as many states and businesses across the U.S. quickly lifted mask-wearing restrictions in response to new guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and countries across the world lifted restrictions, the world continues to see record numbers of new COVID-19 cases. World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Dr. Tedros warned of the grave emergency in India and the worsening situation in countries such as Nepal, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand and Egypt that are dealing with spikes in cases and hospitalizations. Nearly 18 months since the outbreak of the COVID-19 virus was first reported, the global inequities in the response are sharper than ever. Only 0.3% of COVID-19 vaccine supply is going to low-income countries, and the world still lacks the necessary life-saving supplies and systems necessary to contain, let alone end, this pandemic.

It is amidst this backdrop that the Independent Panel is sounding the alarm for world leaders to take urgent action, both to ratchet up the global COVID-19 response as well as to make the significant changes to the international system necessary to bolster global preparedness for future pandemic threats. While we think the Independent’s Panel’s recommendations could have been much more ambitious in certain areas, if enacted they would constitute a major step change in how pandemics are treated by governments as an existential global security threat.  The Independent Panel calls COVID-19 a “Chernobyl moment” for pandemic preparedness: the catastrophe that should trigger the kinds of international policies, systemic reforms, safeguards, and accountability for addressing pandemics that Chernobyl triggered for nuclear threats.

IF ENACTED. This is the key point. We have seen this story play out before — the cycle of panic and neglect characterized by a deadly disease outbreak, followed by urgent crisis response, systemic review, reports, and recommendations that leaders fail to implement. Over the next 100 days, in advance of the next UN General Assembly, we must begin to break this deadly cycle once and for all.       

________________________

“Everything that has been accomplished by this commission is really a prelude. It’s the overture to the opera that we have not yet heard. We don’t really know yet how well these tasks will be taken up and these recommendations acted upon … It’s been shown over time that it’s not enough to lay out what the world should do. It’s going to require continued promotion, advocacy, and monitoring.”
Harvey Fineberg, President, Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation
________________________

In April, Pandemic Action Network’s 100+ partners developed our 2021 Action Agenda to urge world leaders to take action to bolster the global COVID-19 response, hasten an end to this global crisis, and lay the groundwork for a more pandemic-proof world. Last week, we gathered global experts for an examination of the Independent Panel’s findings (view here, passcode: &DuB+G9^) and the verdict was clear: We must lay out the path and the timeline and take immediate action to carry these recommendations forward. Now, on the heels of the Independent Panel’s Report, we call on world leaders to take the following actions within the next 100 days to help end this pandemic and prevent the next.

1. Agree on the plan and secure the resources necessary for the global COVID-19 response and reach at least 70 percent vaccine coverage as quickly as possible.

While global action lags and virus variants continue to spread, the devastating human, social, and economic consequences of the pandemic will only continue to worsen and prolong our ability to reach global herd immunity and bring an end to the acute crisis.

The Independent Panel report urges countries that have bought more vaccines than they need to begin sharing doses immediately through the COVAX facility — with the goal of 1 billion doses by September and 2 billion by mid-2022. We believe we must go further and faster. We urge world leaders to apply the same ingenuity, political will, and public-private partnerships that brought us these novel vaccines in record time to speed up both the global production and the delivery of vaccines — and reach the goal of 2 billion vaccines shared through COVAX to people in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) before the end of this calendar year.

World leaders also should adopt, rigorously cost, and fund a global vaccine roadmap to reach at least 70% vaccine coverage around the world as soon as possible. Recent cost estimates vary widely, from at least $60 billion to an estimate of $190 billion for the costs of delivery to the last mile — and the real costs are likely to be much higher. Given the lack of previous investments in preparedness, the havoc the pandemic has wreaked on already under-resourced health systems, and the continuing global shortages of oxygen, personal protective equipment, diagnostics, therapeutics and other life-saving supplies, a full costing of the global COVID-19 response is likely to be much higher. But even a doubling the higher-end estimates would still be a fraction of what governments have spent so far on response and stimulus measures or the projected $22 trillion in losses to the global economy from the pandemic over the next five years.

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“The world must step up in its ambition and its collective efforts to solve the crisis as soon as possible. It’s unfortunate that 18 months after the start of this pandemic the Panel still felt the need to call for the global roadmap to end this pandemic.”
Muhammad Pate, Global Director, Health, Nutrition, and Population, World Bank,
and Director, Global Financing Facility
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2. Build and commit the resources to launch a new and enduring multilateral financing mechanism for pandemic preparedness.  

The Independent Panel’s recommendation to create an International Pandemic Financing Facility embraces earlier calls by the Pandemic Action Network and others for a new multilateral funding mechanism to bolster pandemic preparedness. The Panel’s proposed facility would mobilize an additional US$5-10 billion annually over the next 10-15 years for pandemic preparedness and be able to disburse rapid-surge financing for response of $50-100 billion at short notice to help stop an emerging pandemic threat. Based on the experience of this pandemic, these funding targets, especially for preparedness, will likely need to increase.

World leaders should commit to launch and fund a new financing mechanism that is fit-for-purpose, based on more rigorous cost estimates of what is required to get the world better prepared, and ensure that its resources are not only additional to current global health spending but also that the preparedness funds are protected in the event of a crisis. This should not just be about business as usual or mobilizing more money for all things health: A new facility should be catalytic; incentivize countries to prioritize development, budgeting, and implementation of their national health security action plans; and hold them to account. Launching this mechanism should not wait until this pandemic is over.

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We must, we absolutely must use this window to focus on tangible actions this year. To build the tools for the future we need, for financing, surge capacity, manufacturing triggers, for oversight. We don’t want to miss this opportunity.”
Beth Cameron, Senior Director for Global Health Security and Biodefense, National Security Council, White House
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3. Elevate pandemic preparedness and response to the highest levels of political leadership, including adopting a global implementation plan and establishing a high-level oversight body with the mandate to prepare for and respond to pandemic threats.

To solve for the egregious lack of decisive leadership and clear accountability for the global COVID-19 response and for pandemic preparedness, the Independent Panel calls for world leaders to take several actions this year: establish a Global Health Threats Council made up of heads of state and government, adopt a political declaration at a Special Session of the United National General Assembly, and adopt a Pandemic Framework Convention. Taken together, these steps would ensure this agenda gets the high-level and sustained political attention and support it demands, and which has been lacking for far too long. A Global Threats Council model is not only something the world needs to prevent and prepare for future pandemics, but a model that we need now to coordinate and action key priorities to end this pandemic. World leaders should embark on those negotiations now and a high-level oversight body should be set up to steer these efforts forward. Simultaneously, world leaders should forge a robust political declaration for adoption at UNGA that will be more than words and not just a one-off event. The Special Session should set in motion a global plan to implement the full range of the Panel’s recommendations to get the world better prepared before the next pandemic strikes, and every head of state or government should lay out what they will do in support.

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“One way to get countries to do more is to have them held accountable by their citizens … Civil society needs to be brought into the decision making processes [for pandemic preparedness], to hold governments accountable for action.”
— Rosemarie Muganda, Regional Advocacy Director for Africa, PATH
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4. Create meaningful and sustained mechanisms to engage civil society as critical partners for driving system change and accountability.

The Independent Panel report underscores that COVID-19 is so much more than a public health crisis; it’s a profound socio-economic crisis, whose impacts will be felt by the poorest and most vulnerable for years, perhaps decades, to come. The longer the pandemic persists, the more the inequities in our systems are amplified and deepened.

As countries, companies, and communities emerge from the acute crisis of the pandemic, they have a responsibility to step up and help close these global gaps, and ensure that this does not happen again. Leaders, at every level — national, regional, global — should take steps to ensure that civil society organizations have a seat at the table as they build and adapt their response and preparedness plans, to ensure those plans reflect the needs of their communities, and to empower citizens to hold their political leaders to account for enacting the fundamental changes needed for a more resilient world.

Pandemic Action Network is laser-focused to seize this window to take action and we are relentless in our advocacy because we believe that we can and must pandemic-proof our present and our future. Together, our 100+ partners urge world leaders — at the G7, G20 and other global summits — to recognize that right now, they have one job: end this pandemic and ensure we are prepared for the next.

 

Pandemic Action Network Statement on the Report of the Independent Panel for Pandemic Preparedness and Response: Make It the Last Pandemic

Pandemic Action Network welcomes the long-awaited report from the Independent Panel for Pandemic Preparedness and Response (The Independent Panel): COVID-19: Make it the Last Pandemic, which assesses the evolution of the COVID-19 pandemic and recommends steps world leaders should take to end this pandemic and prevent another deadly and costly pandemic from ever happening again. 

Pandemic Action Network co-founder Carolyn Reynolds said, “The Independent Panel’s report affirms what Pandemic Action Network has long stressed: That despite repeated warnings over many years, the world was woefully unprepared to mobilize with the urgency, speed, and scale required to prevent an emerging infectious disease outbreak from escalating into a devastating and costly pandemic, whose health and socio-economic impacts will be felt for years, if not decades. As the Independent Panel rightly notes, COVID-19 was a preventable disaster — one that continues to prey on the most vulnerable and marginalized populations in countries at all levels of income.  

“The Independent Panel’s urgent calls on wealthy nations to supply at least 1 billion vaccines to low- and middle-income countries by September, fund the Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator (ACT-A), accelerate technology transfer and remove trade-related barriers are imperative, together with the call for the World Health Organization (WHO) to develop a roadmap with clear goals, targets, and milestones for ending the pandemic. Sadly, the fact that these recommendations are needed nearly 18 months into the crisis — and when the last week marked the highest number of COVID-19 cases the world has recorded to date — speaks volumes about the failures of the global response.  

“Yet as we continue to battle this pandemic, we cannot afford to ignore the next one. We commend the Independent Panel for keeping a clear eye on the future. Many of the Panel’s recommendations reflect the priorities we have set out in our 2021 Agenda for Action, including to: elevate global and national leadership on pandemic preparedness and response; increase investments in preparedness and surge capacity through a new international financing facility;  strengthen the WHO; create a rapid global surveillance and alert system; and ensure a pre-negotiated global mechanism for rapid development and equitable supply of lifesaving tools and technologies. We also support the Panel’s call for a UN Special Summit this fall at which heads of state will commit to action. 

“Most of the Independent Panel’s recommendations are not novel, and they will not solve all the weaknesses exposed by this pandemic. But they provide a starting point both to accelerate the end of this crisis and build a better prepared world. At upcoming global summits, world leaders must take steps to address pandemics as the grave and existential threat to humanity that they are. Too many times in the past, recommendations on pandemic preparedness have faded once the immediate crisis has waned. We owe it to the 3.3 million people who have lost their lives and the brave heroes of this pandemic — the frontline health and essential workers, the epidemiologists, the researchers, the educators, the community activists — not to let that happen again. We want to see a step change in the ambition of world leaders to end this pandemic and pandemic-proof our future and we hope the Independent Panel’s report will be the catalyst for that change.”

Pandemic Action Network Honored Among Fast Company’s 2021 World Changing Ideas

In one year, Pandemic Action Network has come together as a bold catalytic coalition of more than 100 global multi-sector partners to inspire a change in the world, knowing that no single stakeholder can tackle pandemic preparedness or response alone. 

We are proud that Pandemic Action Network has been honored as a part of Fast Company’s 2021 World Changing Ideas because changing the world is precisely the point of our collective efforts. 

World Changing Ideas is an annual social good awards program that elevates innovative projects and concepts that are tackling the world’s biggest challenges, from solving health crises and social injustice to economic inequality and more. Now in its fifth year, the awards have showcased ideas dedicated to making the world a better place.

Last year, COVID-19 shocked the world into awareness that we are not prepared for pandemics. This deadly, costly crisis — which has impacted every country around the globe — has also created a political opportunity for global action — a window that will close as the pandemic fades. 

Our Network is seizing this opportunity for action. We believe that every effort we make in the fight against COVID-19 should leave a longer-term legacy that better prepares humanity to deal with outbreaks and help prevent another deadly and costly pandemic from ever happening again. We know that the challenges are too big and too many for any one single stakeholder or sector, but our experience during our first year of collective action has proven the power of unlocking our Network model time and again.

As we navigate the second year of this pandemic, the work of our Network has only begun and is more urgent than ever. The current crisis in India and the spread of more infectious variants show that we are in a race against time and that the gravity of the challenge demands a step change in the ambition of world leaders. Together, Pandemic Action Network is catalyzing solutions, amplifying opportunities for action, and accelerating an equitable response to this pandemic while seizing every opportunity to put pandemic prevention and preparedness on the agenda so that we can create a pandemic-proof world for future generations.

Lessons Learned — One Year of Collective Action 

One year ago, we launched Pandemic Action Network knowing that no single stakeholder or sector can tackle pandemic preparedness or response alone. Together, over the past year, our innovative Network has learned lessons and achieved progress while remaining agile to act amidst an ever-changing political landscape and compounding social crises. 

To mark our one-year anniversary, we are reflecting on the lessons learned during our first year of collective action. Our work has only begun, but together we are making progress and seizing every opportunity to put pandemic prevention and preparedness on the agenda.

Fill the policy & advocacy action gap.
Our co-founders and partners understood at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic that the global response to COVID-19 would be full of gaps, and someone needed to leap into action to fill them. By building relationships across sectors and translating data into clear messaging and policy recommendations, we enable decision-makers to take actions that will drive more effective pandemic preparedness and response. 

Unlock the Network to maximize impact. 
We knew that the challenges were too big and too many for any one single stakeholder or sector, but our experience during the first year of collective action has proven the power of our network model time and again. Whether amplifying the call for vaccine equity through ONE’s Pandemica campaign, informing the work of the Independent Panel for Pandemic Preparedness and Response, catalyzing a movement to reach 3.5 billion+ people during World Mask Week, supporting Global Citizen and the European Commission’s fundraising effort for the ACT Accelerator, joining forces with partners to form the COVID-19 Action Fund for Africa to fill the PPE gap for community health workers, or influencing the Biden-Harris administration’s agenda on pandemic preparedness, we are demonstrating what is possible when you unlock the power of our global network. Together, we do achieve more.

Amplify, don’t compete. 
In one year, we have built a robust and growing global multi-sector network of more than 100 partners to be the agile platform required to address a crisis of this magnitude. While individual members may not be able to take certain stands or advance certain actions, together we have witnessed the Network’s ability to hold global leadership accountable and drive change, as we have done with our collaborative call to COVAX to ensure the equitable distribution of vaccines to low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) and to world leaders to share excess doses. At the end of the day, we are able to mobilize action by ensuring that we are delivering the right message via the most strategic set of messengers at the right time. 

Messaging matters. 
Storytelling moves people to action. The pandemic has shown the power of consistent and clear communication and the influence of misinformation. It’s no surprise that the WHO declared an infodemic before declaring a pandemic. While focusing on policies that would accelerate an end to the pandemic, the Network has also prioritized the role that communication plays in shaping individual choices and collective policies. Whether creating #AfricaMaskWeek to rally the continent — and particularly youth — around the importance of ongoing masking, or educating influencers in the U.S. with the facts on COVID-19 vaccines with #ItsOurShot, we know that messaging continues to be critical to both navigating the vaccine era of this pandemic and ultimately stopping the spread of COVID-19.

Learn and adapt in real time. 
Just as epidemiologists must learn quickly and integrate new data into their strategies, our Network has learned to be nimble and adapt our strategies based on new information and developments in real time. We have swiftly managed our advocacy strategy around U.S. House and Senate bills and EU opportunities, and pivoted our masking communications strategy taking into account shifting public behaviors and public health guidance. The rapidity with which we have scaled and advanced our work hinges on the Network’s ability to be agile based on the direction of political winds and data-driven learnings.  

Seize every opportunity to put pandemic prevention and preparedness on the agenda.
As we continue to operate in the midst of a pandemic and observe fatigue on a personal and political level, our work is even more urgent. We are collectively driven by the need to stop the cycle of panic and neglect once and for all. We have the opportunity to codify lessons and stop recreating the pandemic response playbook every time there is an outbreak, and we know that we have the best possibility of achieving these objectives when there is strong and sustained political will to do so. Therefore, we have been leveraging the attention devoted to the COVID-19 response to simultaneously advance our longer-term agenda calling on world leaders to take action now to effectively pandemic-proof the planet for the long-term

Long-term commitment is essential. 
As we navigate the second year of this pandemic, it is clear that our work is far from done. We are making collective progress, but we know that this is just the beginning of a long-term effort to ensure a global and equitable response to this pandemic while ensuring that preparedness is always a priority, not only a priority when we are in crisis. 

India Post-COVID-19: An Opportunity to Strengthen Health Security Through Cross-Sector Collaboration

Patrik Silborn, Pandemic Action Network Regional Advisor, Asia-Pacific and Madhav Joshi, CEO, India Health Fund and Pandemic Action Network Advisory Committee Member

Around the world, COVID-19 has laid bare critical gaps in the world’s health infrastructure, and India is no different. In the past two decades the country has significantly improved health outcomes with sharp reductions in child and maternal mortality and the successful elimination of several infectious diseases. Yet, the pandemic threatens to reverse this progress.

Since the start of the COVID-19, over 13 million cases have been registered, resulting in 171 thousand deaths. However, it is believed that these numbers severely underestimate the true spread of the disease. Estimates vary, but some researchers believe that as many as 90 cases are missed for every confirmed infection. The economic impact has been significant, with GDP expected to contract by 8% in 2020 and the hardest effects felt by the most vulnerable. India also has the highest rate of tuberculosis (TB) in the world, claiming around 436 thousand lives every year. In the first half of 2020, TB case notifications dropped by 25 percent compared to the year prior, which is expected to increase mortality rates further. Adding to the challenge, people with TB are at greater risk of COVID-19, and the potential for co-morbidities points to the need for integrated multi-disease approaches instead of the diagnosis and control of one disease at a time.

COVID-19 has been an extraordinary challenge, but the crisis is also an opportunity for India to rebuild better. The pandemic has created new opportunities for improving collaboration across sectors in India. To do this effectively, however, public and private stakeholders must come together to establish joint priorities, improve the pooling of resources, and leverage the unique capabilities of every actor. 

In short, India needs a new compact between the public and private sectors. A number of factors make this both a relevant and opportune time to seize this opportunity.

First, India has a thriving private healthcare sector. The country is home to some of the largest pharmaceutical and vaccines producers in the world, and it has become the largest supplier of generic drugs and vaccines globally. India’s private hospitals attract patients from around the world for specialised treatment. And in India, over 70 percent of people — including low-income earners — seek healthcare services from private providers. 

Second, the government is demonstrating a commitment to improve healthcare outcomes.  In 2017, the Government of India embarked on its most ambitious health program ever.  Ayushman Bharat is a social health insurance scheme that will cover healthcare costs of over 500 million people when fully deployed. Further, the Government of India increased the health budget by over 100 percent this year with ambitious plans to upgrade health infrastructure at all levels.

Third, there is a growing philanthropy movement that brings both ambition and capital to address challenges at scale. India is home to some of the largest and most innovative companies in the world, and private wealth has exploded in recent years. Spurred on by a desire to give back to communities, and the 2 percent CSR tax, new philanthropic initiatives have sprung up in recent years. This is a trend that has been accelerated by the recent pandemic. The multiple interlinked COVID-19 induced crises — from migrant workers and vulnerable populations losing their livelihoods and homes, children missing education opportunities, to overburdened health workers — has spurred unprecedented individual and corporate philanthropy in India.

Finally, there is recognition by all stakeholders for the need to reimagine primary healthcare delivery in the country. With a population of 1.3 billion people, providing access to care for everyone and putting in place effective pandemic preparedness and response systems will require a reimagination of the entire healthcare system. To detect and respond to existing diseases or new pathogens, India must strengthen both public and private service delivery. This requires innovation — not only of tools and systems — but also in how services are being delivered through primary health care systems. 

There are several stakeholders across the public and private sectors that must come together to make this happen. 

  • Universities and research institutions in India have the knowledge and basic research needed to develop innovative solutions that can meet the unique needs of a large and underserved population, especially in screening, diagnostics and technology-enabled solutions. 
  • Indian companies and start-ups have the ability to apply these technologies to develop solutions designed for low-resource settings in India and other parts of the world. 
  • The Government can create a favourable policy environment for innovations as well as avenues for introducing new solutions in the public health system.

COVID-19 has highlighted the need for pandemic-proofing the world. Leaders have an historic opportunity to take actions now that will not only hasten the end of this pandemic, but will also begin to pandemic-proof the planet so that future generations never again experience the health, economic, and social devastation wrought by COVID-19. To do so, all countries must invest more money in health security, in the capacity to develop and produce vaccines, in the detection and response to new pathogens, and in reinforcing collaboration across borders. 

But India can engage globally while taking action at home. Now is the time to develop the partnerships that can drive innovation, the surveillance systems needed to quickly detect and respond to new pathogens, and the approaches that put the needs of patients at the centre. This will make India better equipped to respond to COVID-19 and make India healthier in the future. The fight against this pandemic is still not over. But this is a unique moment to build a bridge to a better future.

Call to Action! Dose Sharing for Global Vaccine Access

This week, advocates that included partners of the Pandemic Action Network sent two separate letters to U.S. President Joe Biden and U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson — leaders of two countries with some of the highest potential vaccination coverage in the world — urging them to share their countries’ excess doses with the rest of the globe. Donating surplus doses of COVID-19 vaccine through COVAX is the fastest way to give low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) access to sufficient amounts of COVID-19 vaccines for their populations to reach herd immunity.

Read the letter to President Biden here, and the letter to Prime Minister Johnson here.

Read Pandemic Action Network’s briefing calling on wealthy countries to share excess doses here.

Pandemic Action Network Applauds Bipartisan Support for Global Health Security Legislation in U.S. House of Representatives

March 25, 2021 – Pandemic Action Network warmly welcomes the bipartisan advancement of a key global health security bill by the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee today. The Global Health Security Act of 2021 is an important step forward to accelerate and deepen U.S. global leadership in pandemic preparedness and response, and draws on lessons learned from COVID-19 to strengthen and invest in global efforts to detect, prevent, and respond to emerging pandemic threats that will keep America and the world healthier, safer, and more secure.

The Global Health Security Act of 2021 (HR 391) legislates the U.S. commitment to, and leadership in, the Global Health Security Agenda, a partnership of 70 countries working to secure global health security. In addition to elevating and improving U.S. prioritization and coordination of global health security efforts, the bill also instructs the Administration to work with other donor nations and multilateral stakeholders to establish a new Fund for Global Health Security and Pandemic Preparedness, which will leverage public and private financing to rapidly accelerate pandemic preparedness in lower-income countries. The Fund echoes calls from the Pandemic Action Network and partners as well as the language included in the recent National Security Memorandum from the White House to stand up an enduring, catalytic international financing mechanism to help countries close critical gaps in their preparedness for potential pandemics and incentivize sustainable domestic public and private sector investments in global health security. The Network calls  on the President and Congress to commit at least $2 billion to jumpstart the Fund this year.

Pandemic Action Network Co-Founder Carolyn Reynolds said, “Pandemic Action Network applauds the strong bipartisan cooperation in the House Foreign Affairs Committee to advance the Global Health Security Act, demonstrating the urgent imperative for U.S. global leadership to make the world safer from pandemic threats. Chronic underinvestment in public health systems and pandemic preparedness has been a major factor in the inadequate control of COVID-19 around the world, and that neglect must stop once and for all.  The bipartisan support for this bill underscores that health security is not a partisan issue, but it is the smart, strategic, and right thing to do—for America and the world.  

“We thank House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Meeks, Ranking Member McCaul, and Representatives Connolly and Chabot for their leadership and strong commitment to heed the lessons learned from COVID-19 and help ensure that America engages with the world in preventing another deadly, costly pandemic from happening again. We urge the entire House to approve this critical health security bill without delay.”

“Honoring Health Care Workers Is Not Enough—We Must Work to Protect Them.” – Recommendations from Resolve to Save Lives for Governments, Health Systems, and Funders

By Amanda McClelland, Senior Vice President, Resolve to Save Lives

The COVID-19 pandemic has been unprecedented in many ways. But in at least one respect, it is tragically similar to other outbreaks of infectious disease: health care workers have not been provided adequate protections and have been hit disproportionately hard.

The World Health Organization estimates at least 30,000 health care workers have already died from COVID-19. Health care workers are so critical to our response to COVID-19 and other epidemics that it’s difficult to imagine what the response would look like without them. Times like this are when we need health care workers most; we depend on them to work intimately with patients, providing both lifesaving care and comfort, even when that means putting their own lives on the line. And although health care workers’ heroism and sacrifices during COVID-19 have been loudly applauded, this well-deserved recognition can hide another truth: these sacrifices—of time, well-being, even their lives—are largely avoidable. By not prioritizing and investing in the safety of health care workers, governments around the world have chosen, once again, words over deeds.

As a nurse, I know firsthand what it is like to be on the frontline of an epidemic without sufficient support. When you don’t have the resources, equipment, policies, training, guidelines or other support you need, it puts you, your patients and your health system at risk.

But there is good news. Protecting health care workers is easier than you think. In a new report, Resolve to Save Lives and partners highlight the risks health care workers face, and break down what governments, NGOs, donors, and advocates can do to start protecting health care workers better today:

  • Put measures proven to prevent and control the spread of infection in place. Health facilities everywhere need clean water, sanitation, and hygiene protocols (also known as WASH standards). Other necessary improvements include increased ventilation, and standards to triage and isolate patients. Adequate personal protective equipment (PPE), including masks, hand sanitizer, and gowns are also needed.
  • Provide training on how to prevent and control infections for health care workers at all levels. Stopping the spread of infections means following best practices—health care workers need quality training (and frequent updates) on how to keep themselves, and their patients safe.
  • Advocate for laws and policies that support health care workers, in and out of the workplace. Employer-sponsored benefits like paid sick leave and access to mental health services allow health care workers to care for themselves, which makes them better able to care for patients. Burn out is a serious threat to the health workforce, a field which already faces critical shortages around the world. This also means prioritizing health care workers everywhere—not just in wealthy countries—to receive COVID-19 vaccines immediately.
  • Collect data on health care worker infections and protections and use it to improve safety practices. Tracking factors like handwashing, hospital-associated infections, availability of PPE, and adequate water and sanitation in health care facilities can help to identify gaps. International leaders like the World Health Organization should prioritize this issue and use available data to publish regular reports and recommendations for improvement.

Take action to advance these critical recommendations!

Read the full report from Resolve to Save Lives: Protecting Health Care Workers, A Need for Urgent Action

Share on social media: Protecting Health Care Workers Social Toolkit

 


Amanda McClelland is the senior vice-president of the Prevent Epidemics team at Resolve to Save Lives. A registered nurse, she has more than 20 years of experience in primary health care, global health and responding to natural disasters, conflict and epidemics in more than 15 countries including the West Africa Ebola response.

Resolve to Save Lives was created to save 100 million lives from cardiovascular disease and to prevent epidemics. Resolve to Save Lives provides catalytic funding to countries interested in improving epidemic preparedness or their citizens’ heart health.

“The Pandemic Demands That We All Get Political.” – A Message from Incoming UNITE Executive Director Amish Laxmidas

By Amish Laxmidas

The current pandemic has shown us that we all need to be political. While we rely on our policymakers to effectively legislate on clinical and non-clinical COVID-19 response, to allocate smart budgets to stimulus packages for our much-damaged economies, and to use diplomacy to make the COVID-19 vaccine as a global public good, there is another pandemic in the making. And it will severely hit us all, if we don’t seize this moment to take action so that COVID-19 leaves a legacy to better prepare humanity to deal with outbreaks.

It has been a year since the WHO has declared SARS-CoV-2 as a Public Health Emergency of International Concern. Recently, we gathered policymakers and global health experts from around the world to grapple with lessons learned and the political commitments required to take action on COVID-19 while not losing sight of the Sustainable Development Goals in the midst and aftermath of the pandemic. With an eye on the next pandemic, the following key recommendations for policymakers emerged:

  1. Lead the discussion on the creation of national and global systems of alert that put in place a strong mechanism to alert national governments and international institutions of the possibility of an imminent global health threat. Lawmakers should be the frontline of a future pandemic rather than healthcare workers.
  2. Hold national governments accountable. 2020 will always be marked by the year in which science, multilateralism, and diplomacy have prevailed after all. However, vaccine nationalism and unilateralism are on the rise. The only stakeholder that has the power to hold national governments accountable for their international commitments are members of parliament, congresses, and senates. They are the ones who truly represent the most vulnerable communities, and therefore they have a duty to fulfill.
  3. Pandemic preparedness and response demand a global response. UNITE is a platform of dialogue and action in which donor countries and policymakers are united in a shared understanding that no one is safe until everyone is safe. Unless we fully fund COVAX and the Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator (ACT-A), policymakers from low- and-middle-income countries will continue to witness their constituencies suffering from the virus and consequently the global economy and supply chains for the high-income countries will continue to be broken.
  4. Invest now for the future. There is enough data for policymakers that shows that the cost of response exceeds the cost of preparedness. The Global Preparedness Monitoring Board is clear in saying that ‘expenditures for prevention and preparedness are measured in billions of dollars, the cost of a pandemic in trillions. It would take 500 years to spend as much on investing in preparedness as the world is losing due to COVID-19’. Further, the latest World Economic Outlook (January 2021) estimates that the global growth contraction for 2020 to be at -3.5 per cent. Countries like the United States or Germany are expected to grow slower than emerging economies in this year and the following.
  5. Democracy must be the most important determinant for health & well-being for all. The linkage between health and democracy is clear: regular, free, and fair democracies have higher legitimacy (and incentives) to provide resource allocation to their constituencies. On the other side of the spectrum, a recent piece from the British Medical Journal shows that ‘countries in which democracy is being eroded have made less progress on universal health coverage’. The economic downturn, the lack of funding for social welfare state mechanisms, and the rise of vaccine nationalism are key ingredients for the rise of misinformation, mistrust in multilateralism, and lack of confidence in policymakers. Political polarisation toward the current virus has allowed a narrative that leads to easy answers for difficult questions. Political cycles and democratic transition of power should be firm but also safe for its most important stakeholder: The People.

 

Over the last year, everyone has been impacted by COVID-19 in some way and the pandemic is everyone’s business now. But, for policymakers, in particular, it is time to turn lessons learned into actions. Policymakers who had never legislated during a pandemic had to turn to public health experts to know when to reopen schools, museums, restaurants or their borders. Global, national, and regional sovereignty is at stake because we did not act accordingly years ago. Now is the time for policymakers around the globe to prioritise long-term pandemic preparedness for the security and health of our countries. Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.


About UNITE

UNITE is an independent, non-profit, global network of current and former parliamentarians. UNITE is committed to ensuring that no life is limited by infectious disease through unified political advocacy. Read the UNITE Global Summit Handbook for policymakers here.

Pandemic Action Network Praises White House Actions to Bolster the COVID-19 Response and Prioritize Pandemic Preparedness

The Pandemic Action Network warmly welcomes the suite of early announcements by the Biden-Harris Administration to elevate and accelerate global efforts to help hasten an end to the COVID-19 pandemic and ensure that America and the world is better prepared for emerging pandemic threats. The decisions and commitments by the White House adopt several of the recommendations that were included in a paper submitted to the Biden-Harris transition team by a group of leading U.S. global health policy experts, including two of our Pandemic Action Network co-founders, Carolyn Reynolds and Gabrielle Fitzgerald.

On his first day in office, President Biden signed a new Executive Order to organize and mobilize the U.S. government to provide an effective COVID-19 response and provide U.S. leadership on global health security. This was followed on day two with a National Security Directive on U.S. Global Leadership to Strengthen the International COVID-19 Response and Advance Global Health Security and Biological Preparedness and an Executive Order on Ensuring a Data-Driven Response to COVID-19 and Future High Consequence Public Health Threats. In addition, to underscore the new Administration’s support for the global COVID-19 response, Vice President Kamala Harris spoke with World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Dr. Tedros and Dr. Anthony Fauci spoke to the WHO’s Executive Board meeting.

Pandemic Action Network Co-Founder Carolyn Reynolds said,

“These early announcements and actions by President Biden and his Administration to prioritize global health security represent the kind of bold leadership that has been lacking on pandemic response and preparedness for far too long. We are delighted to see that President Biden has rightly elevated pandemic threats as a top national security priority for the United States, and that the plan he has put forward is both national and global, recognizing that America’s health and security depends on stopping COVID-19 and future biothreats both at home and abroad.

The Pandemic Action Network and our partners look forward to working with the Biden-Harris Administration and Congress to follow through on these commitments and leave a legacy that better prepares America and the world to address emerging pandemic threats and ensure that a deadly and costly pandemic like COVID-19 never happens again.”

Collectively, the White House actions taken to date respond to our Network’s calls for the Biden-Harris Administration on several issues, including to: prioritize and scale up financing for pandemic preparedness and response both at home and abroad; step up U.S. support for the global COVID-19 response, including joining the Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator (ACT-A) and the COVAX Facility; reform and strengthen the World Health Organization; invest in better outbreak detection and analytics; strengthen global supply chains for frontline pandemic response, including for personal protective equipment; and elevate leadership and accountability within the U.S. government on pandemics.

Open Letter – Calling on President Biden to Establish a COVID-19 Task Force Focused on U.S. K-12 Schools

A collective of educators and public health professionals is urging the Biden Administration to establish a task force focused specifically on reopening schools as quickly and as safely as possible.  Pandemic Action Network Co-founders Gabrielle Fitzgerald and Carolyn Reynolds have signed on to this open letter. While we applaud the urgency set forth by the Biden Administration already, evidenced by inclusion of school funding in the stimulus proposal as well as the goal of reopening schools in the first 100 days, we believe there needs to be focused interdisciplinary attention to schools at a national level to address the intersection of health, education, and labor issues. We have already lost significant time. Please read and sign on to the letter to ask President Biden to urgently stand up a task force to focus on schools in support of the first 100 days agenda.

Read the full letter here.

Email [email protected] to sign on to this open letter.

Statement on FY21 Omnibus and Emergency COVID-19 Spending Bill

Pandemic Action Network welcomes emergency funding for Gavi, urges new Administration and Congress to prioritize global investments in pandemic preparedness and response

Pandemic Action Network Co-Founder Carolyn Reynolds released the following statement on the FY21 omnibus and emergency COVID-19 spending bill:

“We are pleased that Congress saw fit to include $4 billion for Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, in the final omnibus and emergency spending bill to support the global COVID-19 response. These funds will help ensure that people in need around the world can receive lifesaving vaccines as soon as possible, regardless of where they live.

But Congress must do much more to support global efforts to end this pandemic and help prevent the next one. A U.S. contribution of $4 billion for the Global Fund and $200 million for the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) are also urgently needed as part of a broader global response package to address COVID-19’s devastating impacts, which threaten to set back years, if not decades, of progress in global health.

Increasing global investments in pandemic preparedness and response is squarely in the U.S. interest: America will not be safe until every country is safe, and America’s health and economic recovery is highly dependent on global health and recovery. Like the response to 9/11 and the AIDS pandemic, the COVID-19 crisis demands extraordinary U.S. global leadership to treat pandemics as the existential national security threat they are.

We urge the 117th Congress and incoming Biden Administration to work together to significantly step up the global fight against infectious disease threats and prevent another deadly and costly pandemic from happening again.”

Read our recommendations for the incoming Biden-Harris Administration here.

Africa Mask Week Sparks Community Engagement to Keep Masking

Youth, government and public health leaders, celebrities, and people across the continent united around the importance of mask wearing to slowing the pandemic.

During the last week of November, leaders and communities across Africa rallied around an important and critical idea: Keep masking. When we wear a mask, we are protecting our friends, our families, and our communities. 

Africa Mask Week came at a critical time, when data showed COVID-19 cases on the rise, but adherence to masking and other behaviors known to stop the spread waning due to pandemic and prevention fatigue. Between November 23 and 30, 2020 the Pandemic Action Network, Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the African Union Office of the Youth Envoy, the African Youth Front on Coronavirus, and Resolve to Save Lives organized the online campaign encouraging people across the African continent to wear masks and stem the spread of COVID-19. In the weeks since, the effort has sustained on social media and moved to offline fora and communities in 50 out of 54 African countries

Over the span of two weeks:

  • The campaign reached more than 299 million people with more than 187 million social media impressions and 112 million traditional media impressions across 106 countries. 
  • Preliminary results have shown an 18% increase in mask-wearing social posting activity compared to the previous period.
  • During the campaign, “community” was the most popular term in social posts, while #AfricaYouthLead was a popular tag alongside #AfricaMaskWeek.
  • The top post came from social media influencer Ihssane Benalluch, promoting mask wearing in English and Arabic.

 

This effort was driven by 75+ global, regional, national, and local partners via a social media partner toolkit with content in English, French, Arabic, Swahili, and Portuguese. Participating partners included Africa CDC, the AU Youth Envoy, Resolve to Save Lives, CORE Group, the COVID-19 Action Fund for Africa (CAF-Africa), Gavi, Global Health Corps, Global Health Strategies, the Global Health Technologies Coalition, GOAL, Goodbye Malaria, HEA Sports, Jhpiego, Last Mile Health, MSH, ONE, PATH, the Rockefeller Foundation, Southern Africa Youth Forum, Sport Connect Africa, UNICEF, UNITE, USAID, VillageReach, WHO African Region, Weber Shandwick, the World Bank, and the World Economic Forum.

The campaign launched with an Africa CDC virtual launch discussion featuring Africa CDC Director Dr. John Nkengasong, AU Youth Envoy Aya Chebbi, and Pandemic Action Network Co-founder Gabrielle Fitzgerald, and has had 3.2K views to date. 

At the launch of Africa Mask Week, Dr. Nkengasong articulated the challenge, “We may be tired. We may have prevention fatigue, but I can assure you the COVID-19 virus is not tired.” Until there are vaccines or medicines to fight COVID-19, wearing a mask is one of the best tools we have, especially when combined with physical distancing and hand washing. 

But arguably the biggest success of this campaign has been its offline reach across local and regional communities, thanks to the many in-country health institutions and NGOs working at the community level to disseminate mask-wearing messaging. Groups like the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), Amref Health Africa, Development Media International (DMI) and so many more have folded these messages into their public health communications and community engagement efforts, ensuring that the importance of ongoing mask-wearing is emphasized among a wider audience.

We are grateful to the energy and efforts of all of our partners, and look forward to seeing this momentum continue through the new year. When we work together and #WearAMask, we can help stop the spread of COVID-19 in our communities.

Pandemic Action Network Urges Caution and Creativity: This Holiday Season, Spread CHEER Not COVID

New CHEER Tips Translate Public Health Recommendations Into 5 Ways to Stay Healthy and Merry

December 9, 2020, Seattle, WA—With daily cases surging in many parts of the world, and hospitals in the U.S. and many other countries slammed by COVID-19, the Pandemic Action Network is joining the chorus of leaders asking people to scale back their holiday plans. But with one twist: the Network is emphasizing ramping up the fun and creativity while adapting to new traditions that can keep people healthy and safe.

“We have an important message this holiday season: Spread CHEER not COVID,” said Gabrielle Fitzgerald, co-founder of the Pandemic Action Network. “People are craving holiday joy, even more so in the face the unspeakable illness and tragedy we’ve faced during this ongoing pandemic. Our CHEER tips can help make the holidays both merry and safe.”

The five CHEER tips are:

  • Cover your face. Wear a mask to protect you and those around you, especially if you are indoors.
  • Handwash often. Wash with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after removing your mask. Use hand sanitizer as a back-up.
  • Explore virtual activities. Get creative with online game nights, meals, movie watching or gift exchanges with friends or families.
  • Enjoy outside. If you must meet up with people you don’t live with, go outdoors. Even then, keep distance and masked!
  • Remember we are in this together. Until COVID-19 is gone, we must do our part to keep ourselves and our communities safe.

 

Pandemic Action Network partners helping lead the charge to #SpreadCHEER not COVID this season include the Federation of American Scientists, iHeartMedia, Facebook, National Foundation for Infectious Diseases (NFID) and dozens of other national and global organizations that make up the Network. iHeartMedia, for example, is supplying 30-second radio PSAs with the Spread CHEER message to its 800 radio stations around the United States.

In the U.S., the CDC is urging Americans to avoid travel during the winter holiday season. For those who decide to travel, the CDC recommends getting a COVID-19 test one to three days before the trip and another three to five days after travel. And regardless of where people celebrate the holiday, heeding guidelines and protocols from local public health leaders can help stop the exponential increases in cases we are seeing.

The Federation of American Scientists convened a group of leading behavioral scientists to advise on the development of its safe holiday initiative. Ultimately, the counsel helped produce messaging that is both empathetic and actionable; recognizing that we’ve all been through a lot this year, we need joy in our lives, but we also want to protect ourselves and our loved ones. The CHEER tips can help people navigate a perilous season.

“During the COVID-19 pandemic, people have been asked to adopt behaviors that are good for society but can be hard on them. Behavioral science helps us understand the best way to motivate people to adhere to such requests—to take on a cost for the benefit of others,” said Erez Yoeli, PhD, research scientist at MIT’s Sloan School of Management. Dr. Yoeli, whose research focuses on altruism, advised on the development of the Spread CHEER messaging. “This holiday season, we need to communicate the benefit to the community and be as unambiguous as possible about the guidance… all while demonstrating our understanding that everyone is badly—and rightly—craving joy right now. Spread CHEER not COVID hits those notes.”

The Pandemic Action Network is urging people and organizations to share ideas on how they will #SpreadCHEER not COVID on social media, tagging friends and family to pass on the momentum.

For more information, visit bit.ly/spreadcheer.

The Pandemic Action Network was launched in April 2020 to drive collective action to help bring an end to COVID-19 and to ensure the world is prepared for the next pandemic. Since launch, the Network has been working with influencers to promote mask wearing– along with social distancing and handwashing – to help stop the spread of COVID-19. In August, the Pandemic Action Network introduced World Mask Week, and recently launched African Mask Week. Now facing surging rates of COVID-19, catalyzing the Network to share the important #SpreadCHEER message this holiday season is crucial to help slow the pandemic and save lives.

About the Pandemic Action Network
The Pandemic Action Network drives collective action to help bring an end to COVID-19 and to ensure the world is prepared for the next pandemic. The Network consists of 40+ organizations aligned on the mission to promote policies that save the most lives and protect livelihoods by ending the cycle of panic and neglect on pandemics.

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#AfricaMaskWeek Launches to Build Continent-Wide Movement for Mask-Wearing

At a time when COVID-19 cases are increasing in a second wave in many parts of the world and people are fatigued with the public health and social measures, #AfricaMaskWeek is being launched to sustain and increase mask-wearing as a protective measure among populations in Africa.

ADDIS ABABA, ETHIOPIA, 23 NOVEMBER 2020. #AfricaMaskWeek launches today across the continent, from 23 to 30 November 2020. Led by the Pandemic Action Network, in partnership with the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC), the African Union Office of the Youth Envoy, the African Youth Front on Coronavirus, Resolve to Save Lives, and many other organisations, this week-long social media campaign will encourage mask-wearing across the African continent.

Until there is a vaccine or medicine, mask-wearing, handwashing and physical distancing are the best tools available to control the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The key to controlling the spread of COVID-19 in the absence of a vaccine is to adopt the age-old public health strategy of wearing a mask, washing your hands regularly and keeping a safe distance from others,” said Dr John Nkengasong, Director of Africa CDC. “As we intensify testing and contact tracing to identify and treat infected persons across the continent, you can avoid being infected by simply wearing a mask to prevent respiratory droplets from reaching your nose and mouth.”

In August 2020, the Pandemic Action Network led over 40 organisations across the globe to observe the World Mask Week, which provided a unique opportunity to draw attention to the need for increased use of face coverings in public places and particularly in settings where physical distancing is not possible.

Over 55 partner organizations are currently working together in implementing the #AfricaMaskWeek initiative to help mobilize support and action for increased mask-wearing as an essential measure to prevent COVID-19 infection and ultimately stop the spread of the COVID-19 at the community level in African countries.

The week will feature several activities, including a virtual launch event today at 6.00 pm East Africa Time, which will feature discussions about mask-wearing and its benefits in controlling the spread of COVID-19. There will be social media campaigns and online events through the week by corporate and private entities and individuals across the continent to promote mask-wearing. Individuals will be able to show their support by sharing photos and messages about mask-wearing using the hashtag #AfricaMaskWeek.

The registration link to join the kickoff event is: #AfricaMaskWeek23Nov2020. Meeting ID 916 5711 1736 and Passcode 072567.

Recent data suggest that mask-wearing in Africa is declining while COVID-19 continues to spread. African leaders and the public must keep practicing what works to stop the spread. More than 40 African countries have enacted policies on mandatory use of masks in public, but there are challenges with compliance to those policies. Implementation has been inconsistent and, in some cases, marred by human rights violations. Furthermore, there are documented rumors, misinformation, disinformation, and stigmatization about mask-wearing. The #AfricaMaskWeek is an opportunity to raise awareness about the importance of consistent and correct mask-wearing, address misperceptions and mobilize compliance.

“Africa has the youngest population in the world. African youth are innovative, resilient and have shown unprecedented leadership before and during the response to the pandemic. The victory of this fight against the COVID-19 lies in the hands of young people that’s why I call on youth across the continent to join #AfricaMaskWeek and keep on wearing a mask. COVID-19 is still here and still being spread in Africa. Protect yourself and protect others. Let’s save our continent. Mask Up, stand up and don’t give up the fight!” said Aya Chebbi, African Union Special Envoy on Youth.

#AfricaMaskWeek reminds us to wear masks consistently and correctly to help reduce the spread of COVID-19 in our communities. “#AfricaMaskWeek is a call to action for leaders and the people of Africa,” said Gabriel Fitzgerald, Co-Founder of the Pandemic Action Network. “Leaders should lead by example by consistently promoting mask-wearing and by wearing a mask in public. We must not rest or stop practicing those things that will help stop the spread of COVID-19, like handwashing, physical distancing and mask-wearing.”

For more information about #AfricaMaskWeek, please visit africamaskweek.com.

About the Pandemic Action Network
The Pandemic Action Network comprises more than 55 multi-sector member and affiliate organizations that drive collective action to help bring an end to COVID-19 and to ensure the world is prepared for the next pandemic. The network’s mission is to promote policies that save the most lives and protect livelihoods, both during this COVID-19 crisis and in future pandemics. In August, the Pandemic Network launched World Mask Week, August 7 – 14, 2020, which was kicked off by the #WearAMask social media challenge issued by WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros and engaged more than 40 global partners to reach 3.5+ billion people across 145 countries with positive messages to raise awareness about the impact of wearing a mask and encourage mask wearing

About the African Union
The African Union leads Africa’s development and integration in close collaboration with African Union Member States, the regional economic communities and African citizens. The vision of the African Union is to accelerate progress towards an integrated, prosperous and inclusive Africa, at peace with itself, playing a dynamic role in the continental and global arena, effectively driven by an accountable, efficient and responsive Commission.

Learn more at: http://www.au.int/en

About the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention
Africa CDC is a specialized technical institution of the African Union that strengthens the capacity and capability of Africa’s public health institutions as well as partnerships to detect and respond quickly and effectively to disease threats and outbreaks, based on data-driven interventions and programmes. Learn more at: http://www.africacdc.org.

CONTACTS:

Pandemic Action Network
Autumn Lerner (US)
[email protected]
+1-206-234-1156

Krystle Lai (UK)
[email protected]
+44-7425-517326

Africa CDC
James Ayodele
[email protected]
+251953912454

Africa Mask Week Rallies Continent to Continue Wearing Masks to Stop COVID-19

Cases of and deaths from COVID-19 are on the rise in Africa, nearing 2M and surpassing 46K, respectively as of the date of this blog. Despite the increasing spread, there is a low perception of both the risk of contracting the virus and of the severity of the disease, particularly among young people. But communities across the continent have demonstrated great resilience in the face of economic and epidemiological uncertainty over the last several months. It is crucial that this momentum continues until COVID-19 is brought under control.

To fuel that momentum, Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the African Union Office of the Youth Envoy, the African Youth Front on Coronavirus, Resolve to Save Lives, and Pandemic Action Network are teaming up with more than 75 partners to launch Africa Mask Week – November 23-30, 2020. Building off of the success and learnings of World Mask Week, Africa Mask Week is a social media campaign focused on increasing and encouraging proper mask-wearing across the African continent, especially among young people. We are engaging influencers in sports, politics, and within local communities to champion the effort and lead by example and #WearAMask, and working with dozens of organizations around the world and on the continent to get the message out.

Africa Mask Week is a reminder that we must continue to wear masks to help reduce the spread of COVID-19 in our communities. The campaign is a call-to-action to the public to continue masking to protect themselves and their communities and a call-to-action to leaders and influencers to lead by example by practicing and promoting consistent mask-wearing. With your help, we can lay the foundation for pro-masking messages and behaviors to be carried through Africa Mask Week and beyond.

Lend your voice and help us spread the word!

Here’s how you can get involved throughout Africa Mask Week, November 23-30:

  • Adapt and share content across platforms using our sample social media posts from our social media and communications toolkit.
  • Highlight your involvement throughout the week by using the hashtag #AfricaMaskWeek.
  • Follow, retweet, share or like content from the Network.
  • Create your own content with people across your organization who are wearing masks during #AfricaMaskWeek and beyond.
  • Take a selfie of yourself wearing a face covering that covers your nose and mouth. Get creative with fabric patterns and designs – we want to see how you style your mask!
  • If you can, tag the Pandemic Action Network in your custom posts and we will amplify with partners and through our social channels.
  • Make it personal: Issue a #WearAMask challenge to your followers by posting a photo tagged #WearAMask #AfricaMaskWeek and tag friends to do the same!

 

Statement on President-Elect Biden’s Announcement of Ron Klain as Next White House Chief of Staff

The Pandemic Action Network welcomes President-elect Joe Biden’s appointment of Ron Klain to serve as the White House Chief of Staff for President-elect Biden.

Together with the Biden-Harris transition team’s announcement earlier this week of a seven-point plan to fight COVID-19 and a COVID-19 Advisory Board of seasoned public health experts, Klain’s appointment is a welcome signal that the incoming administration will make pandemics a top priority.

Network Co-founders Gabrielle Fitzgerald and Carolyn Reynolds stated, “Getting the COVID-19 pandemic under control is job one for the Biden-Harris Administration. Ron’s experience as Ebola Czar and his continuing advocacy will bring a strong manager and voice on pandemic threats to the White House. When it comes to pandemics, it’s time to break the cycle of panic and neglect once and for all. The Pandemic Action Network looks forward to working with the Biden-Harris Administration to do everything we can to end this pandemic and invest in better preparedness in the United States and around the world so that this never happens again.”

“Vaccines Don’t Deliver Themselves, Health Workers Do.” – Last Mile Health CEO Raj Panjabi at World Bank and IMF Annual Meeting on COVID-19

 

On October 21, 2020, Last Mile Health CEO Dr. Raj Panjabi shared the following remarks at the World Bank Group and IMF Annual Meeting event on “Investing in COVID-19 Vaccines & Primary Health Care Delivery Systems.”

This summer, I came home after testing patients in a COVID-19 clinic where I was forced to reuse the same gown all day. When I got home, I didn’t want to risk infecting my family. So I took off all my clothes before entering the front door. My children were amused, but I was worried.

And I have been even more worried for my fellow health workers around the world. Without masks, community health workers knock on doors in the poorest neighborhoods to find COVID-19 patients. Without face shields, midwives try to deliver babies in community clinics. Without gloves, nurses canoe across rivers to deliver vaccines to families in the rainforest.

We applaud frontline health workers as heroes. We respect them but don’t protect them. Over 7,000 unprotected health workers have died from COVID-19.

We pray for them but don’t pay them. Over $1 trillion of work by women in health care – many as community health workers, nurses and midwives – goes unpaid.

Yes, vaccines can save lives. Yes, vaccines can speed up economic recovery. But no, vaccines will not be a ‘magic bullet’ – because vaccines don’t deliver themselves, health workers do.

We are honored to partner with many of you to invest in paying and protecting community-based health workers. We know this isn’t just the right thing to do, it’s the smart thing to do. We know every dollar we invest in community health workers returns ten dollars to the economy through saving lives and creating jobs. During this recovery, we should ask not only how our health policies, but also economic initiatives, can seize this opportunity to protect lives and livelihoods at the same time.

When epidemics like smallpox and polio threatened to bring humanity to its knees, community-based health workers did not surrender. They went door-to-door to vaccinate billions around the world. Now, health workers are prepared to go as far as it takes to control COVID-19. The question is, are we prepared to go as far as it takes to invest in them?

 

The Next Pandemic Won’t Wait: An Agenda for Action to Strengthen Global Preparedness

While the world is focused on the COVID-19 response, we cannot afford to continue to ignore or delay action to bolster global preparedness for emerging pandemic threats. The Pandemic Action Network released a brief paper with topline recommendations from our Global Health Security Architecture working group urging world leaders to take steps now that will help prevent the next pandemic. Read the paper here.

Global Partnerships Are Our Due North in the Fight Against This Pandemic

This was the week of partnerships. On Wednesday 30 September, organizations came together in different ways to help end the pandemic. The WHO, FIND, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Wellcome, CEPI, GAVI, the Global Fund and UNITAID gave the final lift-off to the Action for COVID-19 Tools Accelerator (ACT-A) which needs to raise $38B in total. The ACT-A  partnership is providing “an integrated ‘end-to-end’ global solution that targets the root cause of the crisissevere COVID-19 disease – to accelerate the end of the pandemic”, with the aim of providing diagnostics, therapeutics and vaccines globally and equitably, as well as strengthening health systems so they can deliver these tools and other essential products.

At the ACT-A event, hosted by the UK, South Africa, the WHO and the UN, two more partnerships were announced. The World Bank dug deep from its extraordinary COVID-19 funds to empower lower-middle-income countries to be able to provide their own citizens with COVID vaccines when the time comes. Also, pharma companies and the Gates Foundation announced they are holding themselves publicly accountable to delivering equitable access for the whole world – not just high-income countries. Here’s the detail on what happened at the ACT-A launch:

  1. Funds were raised towards ACT-A’s $38B target – but we need way more.

With $3B already raised, and a $35B funding gap to fill, $15B of which is urgently needed this year, pledges from the UK (GBP 500M in total, though half of that needs match funding), Canada (CAD 200m) and another EUR100m from Germany were welcome – as was $10m from Sweden – but those contributions only closed the urgent $15B funding gap by $933M. We still have a long way to go. On the positive side, the UK has invested over a billion in total (if we include their match fund) – and may still invest more. We need the other big countries to follow the UK lead. In the US, advocates are pushing for $8B for two key ACT-A agencies, and we will be looking to the G20 to work together and dig deep to fill the gap urgently in the coming weeks, with a close eye on the over $14B amount that still needs to be found in 2020. Much of the money raised so far has been for the COVAX pillar of ACT-A – a global risk-sharing mechanism for pooled procurement and equitable distribution of eventual vaccines for COVID. We need to take care that funds for crucial diagnostics, therapeutics and health systems support and PPE are also raised – we will be looking to donors to fund the ACT-A’s urgent needs based on their detailed economic investment case and costing plan.

  1. There was a welcome $12bn pledge from the World Bank – but it may not count towards the $35B ACT-A funding gap.

President David Malpass of the World Bank Group pledged a very welcome $12B to help LMICs to purchase their own vaccines. However, it’s not clear yet whether these funds will help close the specific funding gaps of ACT-A for a few reasons. First, ACT-A partners will need to look at whether this money going to individual countries maps against particular procurement needs; second, these funds are more likely to come onstream in 2021; and third, the decision is yet to be fully approved. All that said, even if this is not part of the ACT-A funding effort, giving LMICs the right to bid for their own vaccines is an important step towards equity, and to getting these countries tooled up to fight COVID-19, and is extremely welcome.

  1. Pharma companies signed up to a new commitment to equity with the Gates Foundation.

Wednesday also saw the launch of a communique signed by the CEOs of 16 pharmaceutical companies and the co-chairs of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, committing to enable affordability for lower-income countries and to support effective and equitable distribution of innovations globally, while ensuring public confidence in those innovations with a commitment to safety.

The communique contains key commitments to deliver vaccines to the developing world. These commitments include:

  • The expansion of clinical trials to account for diverse representation including lower-income settings and addressing the specific product characteristics needed in these settings.
  • Ensuring timely availability. Delivering these effective innovations to countries around the world for broad distribution as early as possible, no matter their income level.
  • Ensuring that products are affordable in lower-income countries.
  • Striving for equitable allocation of products and support global mechanisms like COVAX, the vaccine pillar of ACT-A.

Having the pharma industry pushing for equity on the inside of the COVAX partnership, among others, will be vital in helping push countries towards a multilateral, collective response that distributes vaccines. This will ensure that the most lives are saved and the disease is stamped out in the fastest possible way, overriding bilateral approaches that would in fact cause much more economic and human cost by prolonging the pandemic unnecessarily.

The scale and unprecedented nature of these different partnerships involve governments, private sector, health agencies and foundations, among others, and show how the world has scrambled the jets and is learning  to work in new innovative ways to try and rid the world of COVID-19, and ensure the cures for this disease do not simply go to the highest bidders.

Now the hard work starts to deliver on this vision. At the Pandemic Action Network, we and many of our partners will be focused on raising the full $38B for the ACT Accelerator over the coming 6 months through our weekly Resource Mobilisation working group, to which all those working on the same objective are welcome. We will also be working assiduously to make sure that the global allocation frameworks deliver tools equitably around the world – so that the delivery of tests, therapies and vaccines, like the disease itself, does not discriminate between rich and poor. We will provide strong support, and a close eye on the policies and processes to help put wind in the backs of all those who are fighting for an equitable, global response to this crisis, wherever they sit within or outside these partnerships.

Together, we’ll succeed – because we must.

If you are advocating to help raise $38B for ACT-A, please contact [email protected] or [email protected] for more details on our Resource Mobilisation working group or any other aspects of our work.

Advice to the Independent Panel on Preparedness and Response

The planet is only nine months into the Covid-19 pandemic, yet the scramble has begun to digest the lessons learned and prescribe corrective actions. Earlier this week, the Global Preparedness Monitoring Board and the Lancet COVID-19 Commission each weighed in with recommendations. Eyes are now on the Independent Panel for Pandemic Preparedness and Response (IPPR), announced by the director-general of the World Health Organization (WHO) in response to the Covid-19 resolution approved by WHO member states in May. This week, the panel initiates its work with an ambitious timeline to submit interim findings to the next meeting of the World Health Assembly (WHA) in November and a final report next May.

Pandemic Action Network co-founder Carolyn Reynolds joins Steve Morrison, Senior Vice President and Director of the Global Health Policy Center at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, to provide advice to the Panel on how it can have the most impact on making the world safer from pandemics. Read their commentary here: https://www.csis.org/analysis/advice-independent-panel-pandemic-preparedness-and-response

World Mask Week Sparks Global Movement

Leaders and people around the globe and across sectors unite around the importance of mask wearing to slowing the pandemic

 

When the Pandemic Action Network, WHO, Africa CDC, CDC and CDC Foundation, European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), Facebook, Google, Global Citizen and 40+ partner organizations announced the launch of World Mask Week (August 7-14), we hoped for a rally around the simple behavior people could adopt to slow the spread of COVID-19.

While the full accounting of the reach and engagement around World Mask Week will emerge in coming days and weeks, here’s what we know now: the world was ready and hungry for this moment. In 117 countries around the world via media coverage and social media, from business leaders to government leaders, and from celebrities to people living their daily lives– we’ve seen an outpouring of support for wearing masks in public to help put an end to this pandemic.

WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus kicked off the movement with the #WearAMask challenge marking the beginning of World Mask Week and asking people to share pictures and videos of their masks. And from there, the momentum continued to build with more than 800 thousand views, 4.6K+ shares and 7.8K likes to date on Twitter.

Africa CDC announced World Mask Week at a press briefing, followed by a Pandemic Action team presentation during a training on infection prevention and control for COVID-19 for 260 journalists. Our colleagues on the continent also reached out to more than 200 sports journalists with tailored messaging and encouraging their participation in the challenge issued by Dr. Tedros. World Mask Week has inspired planning for a regional campaign with Africa CDC to promote masks across the region.

World Mask Week partners from across the global shared content on social media
including Africa CDC, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Breakthrough ACTION, Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, CDC, CDC Foundation, European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), Federation of American Scientists, FIND, GHTC, Global Citizen, Global Health Strategies, Johnson & Johnson, Kolisi Foundation, Last Mile Health, MSH, NFID, NTI, NYAS, ONE, PATH, PSI, UN Foundation, UNICEF, and many, many more.


Sample media coverage from 31 countries
includes USA Today (times two!), Good Morning America, Forbes, San Francisco Chronicle/MSN, Yahoo News, Modern Ghana, The Sun in Nigeria, Armenia Public Radio, OTV in India, International Daily News in China and Orel Times in Russia just to name a few.

Tech partners like Facebook, Google and Amazon have also centered World Mask Week. Facebook shared #WearAMask on their platform and amplified the message via their leaders including Mark Zuckerberg, Sheryl Sandberg and Naomi Gleit. Google posted a #WearAMask Google Doodle and shared World Mask Week social posts across their channels, as did Amazon.

Business leaders and businesses including Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson, Verizon CEO Hans Vestberg, Kenneth Cole, Rite Aid, KFC Russia, and Viber also shared messages for World Mask Week.

World Economic Forum and their Global Shaper (over 9,500 members) and Young Global Leader (1,300 members and alumni) networks joined the effort on social media, while also featuring a blog post by Pandemic Action Network Co-Founder Gabrielle Fitzgerald and Rajeev Venkayya, President of Global Vaccine Business Unit, Takeda sharing why wearing a mask is the most important thing we can do right now. This was also shared on their COVID Action Platform.

The gaming industry, under its #PlayApartTogether initiative, integrated World Mask Week messages and images into its games. Zynga, for example, through its popular Words With Friends 2 app launched World Mask Week with MASK as their World of the Day. The Episode app, a mobile storytelling platform where users choose the path of their story, promoted World Mask Week to its users.

FOX’s hit show The Masked Singer also joined the World Mask Week fun! They featured a special #WearAMask PSA for World Mask Week, and judge/comedian Dr. Ken Jeong posted on social. Throughout the week, FOX affiliates across the U.S. aired stories about the PSA and World Mask Week, including Good Day LA.

iHeartMedia also spotlighted the week, noting for their program directors: “…trending on social media with all demographics are posts about World Mask Week”.  The iHeart Communities podcast with Ryan Gorman interviewed Linda Venczel, Director, Global Health Security at PATH that was broadcasted 185 times across the country. Kang-Xing Jin, Head of Health at Facebook also participated in an interview with Gorman that aired on stations around the U.S. over the weekend.

The Pandemic Action team published a policy briefing called Why Masks Matter” explaining the growing global evidence for wearing a mask in public. Read a blog post from Co-Founder Eloise Todd to learn more. And just this week we’ve seen national and local governments adopt public mask mandates, including Ireland and the city of Brussels, with calls for a national mask mandate by leaders in the United States.

The US Congress also joined in World Mask Week and took up the #WearAMask challenge.  Senators  Toomey (R-PA) and Bennet (D-CO) kicked off the challenge in Congress and urged other Senators and Representatives to champion the message to their constituents, with their bipartisan resolution to encourage Americans to #WearAMask.  Representative Adam Schiff (D-CA) also introduced a similar resolution in the House of Representatives to designate August 7-August 14, 2020 as World Mask Week.

Leaders from across the globe joined the conversation including Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London; Paul Kagame, President of Rwanda; Carl Bildt, former Prime Minister of Sweden;  Judy Monroe, President of the CDC Foundation; Dagmawit Moges, Minister of Transport, Ethiopia; Dr. Jerome Adams, US Surgeon General; Dr. Robert Redfield, US CDC Director; US Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV); US Representative David B. McKinley (R-WV); and many more.

Building on the Network’s #MaskingForAFriend campaign started in April, influencers and celebrities joined the World Mask Week movement including Kristin Chenoweth, Iris Apfel, Mayim Bialik, Billie Jean King, Tenille Arts and others. We welcome all performers, athletes and other influencers to continue to role model mask-wearing, because we’re all in this together!

 

The impact of this massive rally – this show of global solidarity – will reveal its impact as we see increases in people habitually wearing masks, in policies that mandate mask-wearing in public and in community-efforts to increase access to PPE, such as the COVID-19 Action Fund for Africa.

For this to occur, the momentum must continue! While the spark ignited during World Mask Week, the energy, collaboration, and efforts must extend beyond the week. And we know that you – the partners and supporters of the Pandemic Action Network – are up for the challenge! You have already done so much, had such a massive impact, and we know that you will continue to help put an end to the COVID-19 pandemic.

And for that, we thank you from the bottom of our hearts.

For more information, visit worldmaskweek.com.

Advocates Hail Bipartisan Senate Push to Urge Americans to Wear Masks in Public to Slow Spread of COVID-19

Toomey-Bennet Resolution, World Mask Week reinforce importance to #WearAMask

 

August 13, 2020, Washington, DC —The Federation of American Scientists and the Pandemic Action Network today lauded a bipartisan resolution led by US Senators Patrick Toomey (R-PA) and Michael Bennet (D-CO) to urge Americans to wear a mask when they are out in public. The announcement comes as the two groups have joined with the Centers for Disease Control, CDC Foundation, WHO, and 40+ partner organizations to launch World Mask Week from August 7-14 to increase the use of face coverings in public across the globe.

“We commend Senators Toomey and Bennet and their co-sponsors for their leadership in sending this critical message to the American people,” said Dr. Ali Nouri, President, Federation of American Scientists. “The evidence on mask wearing is clear – together with hand washing and physical distancing, it is one of the best tools we have to help slow the spread of COVID-19.”

“Wearing a mask should not be controversial. Study after study affirms that wearing a mask reduces the spread of coronavirus,” said Senator Pat Toomey. “As our economy continues to reopen and until a vaccine is available, wearing a face mask when you venture out is the most practical and cost effective manner in which we, as Americans, can do our part to protect one another. Please, for the benefit of your neighbors, friends, and those who live in your community, wear a mask. I thank the Pandemic Action Network for their continued advocacy on this important issue.”

“As COVID-19 continues to spread, this is a time for every American to take personal responsibility by wearing a mask in public,” said Senator Michael Bennet. “Mask wearing is an easy and inexpensive way for every American to do their part in the fight against this virus. The science is clear that wearing a mask significantly limits the transmission of the virus and helps keep those around you and your community safe. I’m grateful for the Pandemic Action Network’s support of my resolution with Senator Toomey urging mask wearing and for their work to advance this effort in the United States and around the world.”

“The Toomey-Bennet resolution reinforces our core message of World Mask Week: Wearing a mask saves lives,” said Carolyn Reynolds, Co-Founder of the Pandemic Action Network. “It is critical that all of our elected leaders deliver clear and consistent messages and public policies on this, and I urge every member of the US Senate to follow their lead and show Americans that this is not a partisan issue.”

Americans can show their support for World Mask Week by sharing a statement, picture or video on social media, tagged with #WorldMaskWeek and #WearAMask. Visit worldmaskweek.com for more.

About the Pandemic Action Network
The Pandemic Action Network drives collective action to help bring an end to COVID-19 and to ensure the world is prepared for the next pandemic. The Network consists of 40+ organizations aligned on the mission to promote policies that save the most lives and protect livelihoods by ending the cycle of panic and neglect on pandemics.

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Action for COVID Tools Accelerator – Digging Into the Figures and Briefing

Today the leaders of the ‘unusual and unprecedented’ partnership that is the Action for COVID Tools Accelerator (ACT-Accelerator) laid out their mission, their financial needs and the investment case. Here are some of the key figures from the conference:

  • The overall costings for the ACT-Accelerator are set at $31.3bn for the next 12 months, with $3.4bn already raised leaving a $27.9bn funding gap
  • However, within those costings is an urgent funding need of $13.7bn which the world needs to raise as soon as possible for crucial upstream investments
  • Dr. Soumya Swaminathan who runs the vaccine pillar stated that there are over 200 vaccine candidates in development, 15 of which are already in human trials, and there is a hope to have 2bn vaccines produced by the end of 2021 – fairly and equitably distributed across the world
  • Dr. Mariangela Simao said that the working framework for this global allocation of vaccines will be based entirely on health priorities: reducing mortality, health systems, reducing impact on society – though some other epidemiological factors and other metrics will be included in these workings – those the over 65, living with comorbidities and health care and other frontline workers will be prioritized – which makes up around 20% of the global population

Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala ended the press conference stating the ACT-Accelarator will bring us a faster end to the pandemic, and this investment of billions now will not only save human lives but also will save us trillions later. “No-one is safe until everyone is safe. The time to act is now, the way to act is together”, she ended.

Questions were put on how the fair allocation framework will be enforced, and on the detail of how affordability and shared information on R&D will be achieved. Dr. Swaminathan talked about there being a “tremendous commitment from all sides” and that “vaccines for COVID-19 as a global public good is embraced by everyone” and they have seen “unprecedented kinds of collaboration that will also set a model for the future”.

The health systems connector pillar does not yet have a costing but will also be crucial in helping us fight COVID-19 and other pandemics in the longer term.

The Pandemic Action Network is working hard to help leverage commitments to make sure the ACT-Accelerator has the funding it needs to secure a vaccine and end this pandemic as soon as possible, and the next step of that comes on Saturday, June 27 with the Global Citizen and European Commission’s Global Goal: Unite for Our Future pledging event and concert which will raise funds to start to fill that emergency funding gap.

We also note the timeframe for a possible vaccine – 2bn doses hoped for by the end of 2021 – which inspires us to continue our work on helping governments and individuals better manage COVID-19 so that we get rid of the disease as quickly as possible. We will be living with the threat of COVID-19 nearby for some time – and #maskingforafriend in public places, forms of social distancing, frequent hand washing and other behaviors will be crucial to our ability to get through the next year with the minimum loss of life.

Today’s briefing shed light on what the ACT-Accelerator is, what it is not, and how, if we all pull together, we might just be able to raise the funds needed to get these urgent tools out the door, and crucially get them to every corner of the world, regardless of personal or national wealth.

EU Launches Vaccine Strategy: Will It Be Global?

Today the European Commission proposed a new Vaccine Strategy for the EU. While the strategy at its core has the objective of securing the necessary volumes of a safe vaccine for EU citizens at a good price, the EC also expressed its commitment to make it accessible for all the regions of the world, in particular the most vulnerable countries who struggle to secure vaccines for their populations. This is good news and opens the door to this being a global instrument, not just one for Europeans.

At the Pandemic Action Network, we’re committed to ensuring the EU delivers a truly global, equitable response to COVID-19. The EU vaccines strategy set out by President von der Leyen this morning must expand globally. The “buyers’ group” could see richer countries negotiate additional tranches of vaccines that will cover citizens in LMICs, LICS and fragile states.

As the EC communication sets it “this is not only a European challenge, it is also a global one. All regions of the world are affected. The spread of the virus has shown that no region is safe until the virus is under control everywhere.”

COVID-19 anywhere means it is a global threat, including EU citizens, and a global strategy is the only way to sustainably eradicate the virus. We hope that EU leaders have the foresight to use this opportunity to deliver on the strong verbal commitments they have all made to ensure a truly global, equitable response.

What We Want to See Happen on June 27: A Bold Plan to Make Sure This Never Happens Again!

As the world continues its long fight against COVID-19, world leaders have repeatedly signaled their strong commitment to global health. The Gavi replenishment summit, where US$8.8 billion were raised to help immunise millions of children and strengthen health systems in the poorest countries, was the last of a series of events that helped mobilise crucial funds to help the poorest countries cope with COVID-19. But this is not enough.

World leaders will gather again at the Global Goal: Unite For Our Future Summit on June 27. At the Pandemic Action Network, we’ve called on leaders to build on the success of the Gavi replenishment and previous pledging moments to go much bolder to make sure we don’t repeat the errors of the past. They must seize the opportunity of June 27 to ensure the world has the resources and efficient, inclusive mechanisms necessary to rid the world of COVID-19, deliver equitable access to innovations, as well as to develop a plan alongside this vital work to prevent future pandemics.

To do that, leaders must urgently commit to a time-bound, transparent and credible process for the adoption of a global, cost plan for pandemic preparedness. Once and for all, we must break the deadly and costly cycle of panic and neglect that has left the world so vulnerable to pandemic threats. Wealthy countries must step up support to the poorest countries to make the necessary investments in national health security action plans and more resilient health systems in support of the most marginalised communities. Every country must have the capacity to detect, prevent and respond to future outbreaks before they become deadly and costly pandemics – so the world does not repeat the death and economic devastation we have seen in 2020.

World leaders must also ensure that all COVID-19 response tools and initiatives are global and equitable. Any plan being launched on the production, distribution and purchasing of possible future vaccines and drugs need to have universal access and equity at their heart. It is vital that developing countries have a place as equal partners in both ACT/A and the new EU Alliance on vaccines that will be announced tomorrow. It is also crucial that marginalised and vulnerable groups, health care workers and other key workers, those living in LMICs, LICs and those in COVID-19 hotspots are prioritised when vaccines are rolled out.

World leaders must live up to their commitments to work for global solutions to this crisis, leaving no one behind, as well as to start treating pandemics as the existential security threat they are. Not only is that the right thing to do ethically, but it is also in the self-interest of each citizen and every nation, because no one will be safe until everyone is safe.

This is what we are asking for from world leaders, and we will be asking them to deliver on June 27 and start the process towards making our world resilient against future pandemics.

World Mask Week Aims to Inspire Global Movement to Wear Face Coverings in Public to Help Stem Exponential Spread of COVID-19

World Mask Week (August 7-14) launched to encourage more people to do their part by wearing a mask in public

August 6, 2020, Seattle, WA—The Pandemic Action Network, WHO, Africa CDC, CDC and CDC Foundation, Facebook, Google, Global Citizen and 40+ partner organizations announced today the launch of World Mask Week from August 7-14, an effort to increase the use of face coverings in public across the globe.

Given the alarming exponential increase of infection rates across the globe, sustained community masking in public is critical to stop the spread of COVID-19, even as situations vary around the world. And until we have vaccines or medicines to fight COVID-19, face coverings are one of the best tools we have – particularly where social distancing is not practical.

“COVID-19 is a respiratory disease caused by the transfer of droplets. As the pandemic continues to gain momentum in Africa, we must increase compliance to the public health and social measures so we can protect ourselves and protect our economy. We must increase mass wearing of masks as we expand testing and treatment services,” said Dr. John Nkengasong, Director of Africa CDC.

The initiative encourages people and organizations around the world to rally behind the importance of wearing a mask to stop the spread of COVID-19 during World Mask Week and every week until there is a vaccine available. People can show their support by sharing a statement, picture or video on social media, tagged with #WorldMaskWeek.

“Slowing the spread of COVID-19 requires everyone to play a role to keep themselves and their communities safe and healthy. Health experts have made it clear that wearing a mask is a key and simple preventive measure,” said KX Jin, Head of Health, Facebook. “We’re proud to partner on World Mask Week with leading health organizations as part of our commitment to connecting people to the expert guidance of those working on the frontlines.”

“Google is committed to helping share one simple message: Wear a Mask,” said Dr. Karen DeSalvo, Chief Health Officer, Google. “From our homepage doodle, to providing information on Google Search and Maps, we are connecting people to helpful, authoritative resources that explain how wearing a mask can help reduce the spread of COVID-19 and save lives.”

The CDC Foundation is another Pandemic Action Network partner marking World Mask Week. “We’re committed to supporting the response to the public health threat posed by this virus, and wearing a face covering consistently and correctly is one of the most important things we can do as individuals to fight COVID-19,” said Dr. Judy Monroe, President and CEO of the CDC Foundation. “The CDC Foundation is helping organize and support a number of campaigns, including campaigns with CDC and the Ad Council, focused on the importance of face coverings to crush COVID-19.”

Face coverings block the spray of droplets from sneezing, coughing, talking, singing or shouting when worn over the mouth and nose. They serve as barriers that help prevent droplets from traveling into the air.1,2,3 Since people may have COVID-19, but not know it or have symptoms, consistent mask wearing can reduce the spread of the virus.4,5 Mathematical modeling shows that masks worn by 80-90 percent of the population coupled with social distancing could eventually eliminate the disease.6

“Inconsistent policies on masking have caused confusion and there is mounting evidence that failing to wear masks is contributing to the spread of COVID-19,” said Eloise Todd, Co-Founder of the Pandemic Action Network. “Leaders should make clear and consistent policies around the importance of wearing a mask outside the home when in public. If nearly everyone wears a mask, practices handwashing and social distancing we can end the pandemic more quickly, prevent suffering and save lives.”

Global Citizen is supporting World Mask Week by encouraging Global Citizens to wear a mask. “We are proud to support World Mask Week as our supporters take action in every corner of the globe to push their leaders to adopt clear rules on wearing a mask in public,” said Michael Sheldrick, Chief Policy and Government Affairs Officer, Global Citizen. “We also need global leaders to govern by example. When we all wear masks, citizens become more focused on listening to the guidance of the medical community, and together we are better suited to help save lives.”

The Pandemic Action Network was launched in April 2020 to drive collective action to help bring an end to COVID-19 and to ensure the world is prepared for the next pandemic. Since launch, the Network has been working with influencers to promote mask wearing– along with social distancing and handwashing – to help stop the spread of COVID-19. World Mask Week provides the opportunity to continue to sustain this momentum, uniting disparate parties around a single message.

World Mask Week partners and activities represent a broad spectrum. For example:

    • WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus launched the #WearAMask challenge to mark the beginning of World Mask Week, asking people to share their mask photos and videos
    • Africa CDC will announce World Mask Week at their press briefing today and follow-up with a presentation by Pandemic Action Network during a training on infection prevention and control for COVID-19 being organized for journalists later in the day. Africa CDC is also posting messages about World Mask Week on its social media platforms
    • The gaming industry, under its #PlayApartTogether initiative, is integrating World Mask Week messages and images into its games
    • iHeartMedia is integrating World Mask Week content into their programming
    • World Economic Forum and their Global Shaper and Young Global Leader networks will join the campaign via social media

For more information, visit worldmaskweek.com.

About the Pandemic Action Network
The Pandemic Action Network drives collective action to help bring an end to COVID-19 and to ensure the world is prepared for the next pandemic. The Network consists of 40+ organizations aligned on the mission to promote policies that save the most lives and protect livelihoods by ending the cycle of panic and neglect on pandemics.

References
1. CDC. About Cloth Face Coverings. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/about-face-coverings.html.
2. Prather KA, Wang CA, Schooley RT. (2020). Reducing transmission of SARS-CoV-2. Science 368(6498):144-1424.
3. Lyu W, Wehby, GL (2020). Community use of face masks and covid-19: evidence from a natural experiment of state mandates in the US. Health Affairs 39(8).
4. Chan TK. (2020). Universal masking for COVID-19: evidence, ethics and recommendations. BMJ Global Health 5:e002819. doi:10.1136/bmjgh-2020-002819.
5. Lai CC, Liu YH, Wang CY, et al. (2020). Asymptomatic carrier state, acute respiratory disease, and pneumonia due to severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2): facts and myths. J Microbiol Immunol Infect 53 (3):404-412. doi:10.1016/j.jmii.2020.02.012.
6. Kai, De, Goldstein, Guy-Philippe, Morgunov, Alexey, Nangalia, Vishal, Rotkirch, Anna, Universal Masking is Urgent in the COVID-19 Pandemic: SEIR and Agent Based Models, Empirical Validation, Policy Recommendations, https://www.researchgate.net/publication/340933456_Universal_Masking_is_Urgent_in_the_COVID-19_Pandemic_SEIR_and_Agent_Based_Models.

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Other World Mask Week Commitments

The following organizations are conducting additional activities for World Mask Week:

    • American College of Preventive Medicine will feature World Mask Week at Preventive Medicine 2020 Online (virtual conference)
    • The American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene is supporting World Mask Week through emails to its tropmed and global health communities, and
      by promoting #WorldMaskWeek on its Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn pages
    • Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists will feature World Mask Week in their newsletter and on social media
    • Federation of American Scientists is leading the charge on advocating for a mask-related resolution in the U.S. Congress and supporting World Mask
      Week media and social media
    • FIND Diagnostics is sharing content across their social media channels and pitching an op-ed encouraging people to wear masks
    • Global Health Strategies is sharing content across their social media channels
    • Global Health Council is participating in the World Mask Week social media campaign
    • Global Health Technology Coalition is participating in the World Mask Week social media campaign
    • Goodbye Malaria is sharing content across their social media channels and is working to share World Mask Week messaging through the Ndlovu Youth
      Choir
    • Grayling is conducting World Mask Week activities in Russia including developing an op-ed for local media, work with influencers to share the message
      and promoting across social media
    • International Association of Providers in AIDS Care (IAPAC) will be participating via social media, through both the @IAPAC and @FastTrackCities
      handles
    • Johns Hopkins University Center for Communication Programs (CCP) and Breakthrough ACTION for Social and Behavior Change are sharing
      World Mask Week with their global CCP field offices and Sister NGO partners
    • Management Sciences for Health is participating in the first ever World Mask Week by highlighting Senior Leadership and field team members across the
      globe on the importance of wearing masks to prevent the spread of coronavirus and why they are #maskingforafriend”
    • Nuclear Threat Initiative is sharing content across their social media channels
    • ONE Campaign is publishing a blog and encouraging supporters (via email) to get involved in the week, sharing some of the best tips on how to
      correctly wear a mask on social media and sharing pictures of some of their global activists wearing their masks
    • PATH is sharing content across their social media channels, and Global Health Security Director Linda Venczel is available for media interviews
    • Rockefeller Foundation is participating in the World Mask Week social media campaign
    • United Nations Foundation is sharing content across their social media channels and engaging their influencer network to promote the week
    • UNICEF will be sharing UNICEF-related mask content and messaging on social media throughout World Mask Week

Pandemic Action Network’s Support for WHO Statement

Pandemic Action Network believes that the world needs a strong World Health Organization both to stop this pandemic and to help ensure every country is better prepared to manage future pandemic threats.  No country is safe from pandemics until every country is safe.  The world is in the midst of the biggest public health crisis in a generation, and global solidarity and collaboration is needed more than ever. US involvement is needed to support and strengthen the World Health Organization to help tackle future pandemics.

The health and safety of Americans – and people around the world – depend on it.  We hope that all countries, including the US, will soon be able to unite to tackle this crisis and prevent future pandemics, and to strengthen and improve the WHO to the benefit of us all.

The Network’s Initial Reaction to the European Commission’s Recovery Plan: Promising Signs for Pandemic Preparedness – Now for a Broader, Global Resilience Agenda

This week the European Commission put forward a proposal for a major recovery plan for the EU. The EU decided to reboot its 7-year budget proposal in light of the COVID19 crisis. The overall Multiannual Financial Framework covers the funding period from 2021-2027 and was boosted by an additional €715 billion to €1.85 trillion – including a €750 billion ‘Next Generation EU’ recovery fund – gave us all a glimmer of hope for tomorrow.

At the Pandemic Action Network, we are focused on securing long-term solutions to resolving this COVID19 crisis so that future pandemics can be prevented.

Here are the 10 things we’ll be watching in the EU’s newly proposed recovery plan:

  1. A new standalone programme for pandemic prevention and preparedness – The Commission is proposing to create a new EU4Health programme, with a budget of €9.4 billion to invest in prevention and crisis preparedness and help deliver well-performing and resilient public health systems. Although it represents only a small proportion of the overall plan, having a pot of money dedicated to strengthening health security and prepare for future health crises is a major step forward.
  2. A new Resilience and Crisis Response budget: The EU4Health is part of a new resilience and crisis response budget line alongside security and defense, under a renamed ‘Heading 5: Resilience, Security and Defence’ (previously ‘Security and Defense’). The Resilience and Crisis Response budget sees a big boost with an additional €12.8 billion, totalling €14 billion (the majority of which will come from the Next Generation EU funding). Also, under this budget line, RescEU, the Union’s Civil Protection Mechanism, gets an extra €1.9 billion, to €3.1 billion, to better prepare for and respond to future crises.
  3. A Commitment to international cooperation and common solutions for all – The EU is committed to support the global response to Covid-19, including by ensuring universal and affordable access to treatment, testing and any future vaccine. The plan proposes an additional €6.78 billion for the Neighbourhood, Development and International Cooperation Instrument (NDCI), to €86 billion, and another €5 billion for humanitarian assistance, reaching €14.8 billion.
  4. Creativity in finding new resources. The Commission will use its strong credit rating (and temporarily raise the EU’s own resources ceilings) to exceptionally borrow up to €750 billion in low interest loans at long maturities on the market. It will then channel borrowed funds (partly recycled as grants) to regions and sectors most vulnerable to COVID-19 in Europe and for pandemic preparedness and prevention. In addition, in order to make funds available as soon as possible, the Commission proposes to amend the current budget (covering 2014-2020) to make an additional €11.5 billion available already this year.
  5. European medicines agency– The Commission will propose to strengthen the European Medicines Agency in monitoring production and supply of essential medicines in the EU to avoid shortages.
  6. European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC): It will also give a stronger role for the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) in coordinating surveillance, preparedness and response to health crises.
  7. More flexible emergency reserves for better crisis management. The Commission is proposing to create EU-level reserves of essential supplies and equipment to be mobilised in response to major emergencies and to strengthen its emergency financing tools (such as the EU Solidarity Fund, the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund, and the Solidarity and Emergency Aid Reserve) and make them more flexible to enable a rapid response to crises both within and outside the EU. Together, these instruments would provide for up to EUR 21 billion in additional emergency financing.
  8. Better and simplified regulation – The Commission will set up the ‘Fit-for-Future Platform’ involving all stakeholders to simplify and modernise EU legislation to alleviate unnecessary regulatory burden. The Commission will also present a Communication on Better Regulation later this year to ensure law and policy making are based on robust evidence and assessments.
  9. Investment in research and innovation. The Commission is proposing to reinforce ‘Horizon Europe’ by €7.8 billion, to €94.4 billion, to scale up vital research in health, resilience and the green and digital transitions.
  10. Fight Infodemics. The Commission plans to address disinformation challenges linked to the pandemic and build resilience for the future.

It’s now down to the European Parliament and the 27 Member States to carry on negotiations and reach an agreement on the long-term budget to equip the EU with the right tools to fight this pandemic and prepare for the next.

These initiatives are a great show of leadership from the EU to develop a resilience budget that can prepare us for future crises. PAN will be working with partners to make sure this proposal is protected, and even strengthened, in the negotiations between Member States and the European Parliament. PAN will also work to ensure the same kind of plan is adopted in other countries and at the global level, in particular resilience budgets and standalone mechanisms for pandemic preparedness. In addition, President Von der Leyen announced today that extra funds for international cooperation will be raised at a Global Pledging Summit on 27 June backed by the European Commission, 15 countries so far, and delivered by Global Citizen and partners.

Other countries and organisations should also explore innovative ways to raise funding for the global effort, to ensure the poorest countries can also fight this pandemic and be ready for the next. No-one is safe until everyone is safe

All figures are in 2018 constant prices

Background Information

The Commission is putting forward a two-fold plan totalling €1.85 trillion

  • Reinforced long-term EU budget (known as the Multiannual Financial Framework, or ‘MFF’) for 2021-2027 (€1 100 billion)
  • ‘Next Generation EU’ to boost the EU budget with new financing raised on the financial markets for 2021-2024 (€750 billion)

The money from Next Generation EU will be invested across three pillars, through €500 billion in grants and €250 billion in loans to Member States.

  1. Supporting Member States to recover
  2. Kick-starting the economy and helping private investment
  3. Learning the lessons from the crisis (including pandemic preparedness and prevention)

Proposed timeline:

  • May 27, 2020: Commission proposal for the revised Multiannual Financial Framework 2014-2020 & 2021-2027 and Own Resources Decision + sectoral legislation
  • July 1, 2020: German Presidency of the EU begins
  • By July 2020: European Council: Political agreement on Multiannual Financial Framework 2014-2020 & 2021-2027 and Own Resources Decision
  • By summer 2020: European Parliament’s consultation on Own Resources Decision
  • Early autumn 2020: Adoption of the revised Multiannual Financial Framework 2014-2020 + corresponding sectoral legislation
  • October 2020: European Council
  • December 2020: Adoption of the revised Multiannual Financial Framework 2021-2027 (European Parliament’s consent) Adoption of the Own Resources Decision (Ratification by all Member States in line with their constitutional requirements)
  • January 1, 2021: Multiannual Financial Framework 2021-2027 implementation starts

More information here:

 

Opinion: Leaders — Build on Successful Pledging Effort and Go Bolder

Dear leaders,

Accelerating the end to COVID19 and preventing further pandemics demands a bold, inclusive and comprehensive global action plan. With tremendous uncertainty around when this pandemic will end, we have to tackle these challenges – emergency response and long-term prevention – together.

The May 4 pledging conference led by European Commission was a critical display of global solidarity and political commitment to tackle this global challenge, echoed by many at the WHA last week. Yet the money raised is only the down payment of what is required to end this pandemic and prevent the next one. Beyond the pledges made thus far towards research and development into diagnostics, therapeutics and vaccines to stop the spread of COVID-19, the international community must also prioritize investments that will ensure universal and equitable access to these innovations, and ensure that in particular the world’s poorest countries can continue delivery of essential health services to the most vulnerable populations during the pandemic, and build stronger, more resilient and better prepared health systems for the future. This is not only the right thing to do for humankind, but also an outbreak anywhere can quickly become a pandemic everywhere – as COVID-19 has so clearly demonstrated.

Therefore, we urge you to build on the successful pledging effort begun on 4 May and go much bolder – to ensure the world has the resources and efficient, inclusive mechanisms necessary to rid the world of COVID-19, deliver equitable access to innovations, and prevent future pandemics. Specifically, we are calling on all leaders to:

1. Achieve international agreement on a strategic, fully costed plan to end this pandemic and prevent the next one

– Establish a transparent and credible process to develop to identify and fully cost the needs to end COVID-19 and help prevent future pandemics particularly in the poorest countries, building on existing international assessments of preparedness gaps.

– Set out clear principles – based on global equity – and a timeline for delivering the necessary funding for this comprehensive plan through future global pledging moments. All pledges should be additional to previous commitments and the modalities and timeline of disbursements should be made public.

2. Establish transparent and inclusive governance structures for the new Access to COVID Tools Accelerator (ACT)

– Establish an ACT Board with diverse global representation beyond health organizations and the founding groups, to include civil society, healthcare workers, patients and communities, supply chain experts, business and other experts.

– Allocate and disburse funds committed for the ACT against a clear strategic plan to end this crisis and prevent future pandemics, prioritizing those in LMICs and vulnerable groups.

– Clear principles must be established on the use of funds and private sector engagement, patents and reporting.

3. Retain commitments to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals

– Even as global leaders mobilize to invest in a bold and accelerated COVID-19 global response, they need to continue to support overseas development aid to mitigate the effect of the pandemic on the poorest nations and to build better and more resilient interlocking systems that lead people out of extreme poverty.

We stand ready to work with decision makers in global institutions and governments to make sure we end this crisis and prevent future pandemics with global, sustainable and inclusive solutions, on the basis of the above principles of equity, transparency and accountability. It is time for leaders to act, breaking the cycle of panic and neglect around pandemic preparedness and do whatever it takes to rid the world of COVID-19 and make sure this situation cannot happen again.

Signed

Global Citizen,
Girls Not Brides,

Global Health Advocates,
Global Health Technologies Coalition 
Humanity & Inclusion,
The ONE Campaign,
Management Sciences for Health,
PATH,
Pandemic Action Network,
PLAN International,
Project Everyone,
Save the Children

To support this letter, please add your organisation here.

Global Advocacy and Communications Effort Launched to Drive Action Against COVID-19 and Stop Future Pandemics

South Africa’s Rugby World Cup Winning Captain Siya Kolisi kickstarts behavior change efforts “For Humankind”; calls on other stars from sports and screen to continue to rally around protective actions, like #MaskingForAFriend

April 22, 2020, Seattle, WA – A network of leading international organizations announced today the creation of an advocacy initiative to ignite a global movement to help accelerate an end to the COVID-19 pandemic and enhance our preparedness to stop future pandemics. The Pandemic Action Network will advocate for policy changes and increased support and resources to ensure countries are better prepared to prevent, detect and respond to pandemic threats. This initiative will also host “For Humankind”, a new effort to promote accurate information to ensure people around the world understand what they need to do to protect themselves and their communities from COVID-19.

The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed the extreme fragility in the ability of the world’s systems to respond to a new and highly infectious pathogen. While public health experts have been making this case for years, there has not been complementary policy, advocacy and communications support to create the political will necessary for policy and funding changes to enhance our preparedness.

This effort is being created with support from founding members the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Johnson & Johnson, in addition to the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation and Schmidt Futures. The Network will initially comprise of a dedicated and highly experienced secretariat and key advocacy leaders in Seattle, Washington DC, Brussels, London and Beijing. They will work in partnership with individuals and organizations around the world to advance a robust policy and advocacy agenda.

The Pandemic Action Network will steer this shared agenda, with three overarching objectives:

  • Ensure full funding for the global and country-level COVID-19 response and future pandemic preparedness 
  • Strengthen the global health security architecture for more effective pandemic preparedness and response
  • Accelerate research, development and access to innovations to combat COVID-19 and emerging pandemic threats

A core principle of the Pandemic Action Network is that ‘no one is safe until everyone is safe,’ meaning an equitable global lens is crucial for a successful response. “West Africa’s devastating Ebola epidemic showed us that the world must come together to ensure countries are prepared for outbreaks, including that health workers on the frontlines have the gear and training they need to keep safe and keep serving,” said Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, former President of Liberia and World Health Organization Goodwill Ambassador for Health Workforce. “Decisive political leadership and global cooperation will determine if we win the war against this invisible enemy, which is why we need the Pandemic Action Network.”

The Pandemic Action Network will be counseled by an international expert advisory council that will initially include Professor Peter Piot, currently director of the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine and previously founding executive director of UNAIDS and the co-discoverer of the Ebola virus, and Dr. Judy Monroe, head of the CDC Foundation, an independent nonprofit that mobilizes philanthropic and private-sector resources to support the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s work; among others. Additional experts will be announced.

“It’s critical that the philanthropic, public and private sectors work together to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Judy Monroe, MD, president and CEO of the CDC Foundation. “And it’s clear that a coordinated effort is needed to prepare for, and hopefully prevent, the next pandemic. The CDC Foundation is pleased to join the Pandemic Action Network in this goal.”

Private sector support for the Network is led by founding member Johnson & Johnson. The company has been actively engaged in fighting pandemics for more than a century, first introducing the epidemic mask in 1919 to help contain the Spanish Flu. In January it rapidly mobilized its scientific expertise and extensive partnerships to tackle COVID-19. “While we focus on stopping COVID-19 now we must also keep one eye to the future and ensure we are learning from this experience and applying those lessons.  Effective, sustained and coordinated advocacy about the policy and system reforms necessary to prevent future outbreaks will be critical to ensure this happens,” said Adrian Thomas, M.D., Vice President, Global Public Health at Johnson & Johnson. “That’s why the world needs the Pandemic Action Network.”

The Pandemic Action Network will also serve as a hub for expert global communications efforts to amplify public health messaging needed to help stop the spread of COVID-19. Its first digital communications campaign, #MaskingForAFriend, will amplify consistent, accurate messaging endorsed by leading public health officials to make sure people know how to protect themselves and others from COVID-19 by using homemade cloth face coverings.

“Everyone has a part to play in protecting the public’s health. We all have agency,” said Dr. Harvey Fineberg, president of the Moore Foundation. “We can use our ingenuity and know-how to reduce everyone’s risk of exposure, create better ways of meeting social needs, reduce the burden of disease, and overcome the dislocation and hardship caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.”

The campaign will initially launch in the United States and South Africa to help increase understanding on the need to use cloth face coverings in public, along with continuing other protective measures like social distancing and handwashing. The Pandemic Action Network will provide an open source global platform for public health messages and materials to be used worldwide. Planned expansions include India and countries in Africa, Europe and South America.

Siya Kolisi, captain of South Africa’s Rugby Team, kicked off the effort, calling on the public in both countries to wear a mask outside their homes to protect others from contracting the virus. Siya, and other influencers like Andy Cohen and Annie Potts, have started posting about how they are #MaskingForAFriend. They also encourage others to join the movement by spreading the word about wearing homemade masks, and sharing a selfie image or video wearing a cloth face covering during essential errands or making masks using the hashtag #MaskingForAFriend.

“I am proud to use my platform to share accurate health information with as many people as possible to help stop this virus in its tracks,” said Kolisi. “As a captain, I now call on other sports leaders to model good protective behavior – whether it be staying home, washing hands or covering your face. We need to do it ‘For Humankind.’”

The Pandemic Action Network is composed of experienced leaders in global advocacy, policy and communications based around the world. It is the brainchild of Gabrielle Fitzgerald (CEO, Panorama), Carolyn Reynolds (Distinguished Fellow with The George Institute for Global Health and Senior Associate with the Global Health Policy Center at CSIS), Eloise Todd (formerly of ONE Campaign and Best for Britain) and David Kyne (CEO of Evoke KYNE, a firm that specializes in international behavior change communications activities, including past efforts during the Ebola outbreak in West Africa). They will be joined by Greg Propper from social impact firm Propper Daley.

“We have known for many years that a pandemic could occur at any point,” said Gabrielle Fitzgerald, CEO of Panorama, a Seattle-based action tank, and co-founder of Pandemic Action Network. “As we continue to battle the COVID-19 pandemic, we must build and sustain political will to ensure that policies are put in place, and funding is made available, to ensure all countries are better prepared for the next outbreak.”

The growing list of multilateral organizations, private companies, foundations and non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and the private sector joining the Network include the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, CDC Foundation, Evoke, Evoke KYNE, Federation of American Scientists, Global Citizen, Global Health Strategies, Global Health Technologies Coalition, Goodbye Malaria, Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, iHeart Media, Johnson & Johnson, Last Mile Health, Management Sciences For Health, NTI (Nuclear Threat Initiative), ONE Campaign, PATH, Panorama, Project Everyone, Propper Daley, Schmidt Futures, The Kolisi Foundation, UN Foundation, Wellcome and #PlayAPartTogether, a group of more than 70 gaming companies.

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