Call for G20 Leaders to Take Pandemic Action

Ahead of this year’s G20 Leaders’ Summit, over 50 global, regional, national, and local organizations are calling on leaders to put forward actions that ensure everyone has the tools to curb COVID-19 and prevent future pandemics. As health crises continue to set development progress back, impact our economies, and undermine the world’s ability to tackle other global challenges, joint and coordinated measures, policies, and investments remain urgent and necessary. 

While Indonesia’s G20 Presidency has advanced key agreements and proposals on PPR — such as the new Financial Intermediary Fund for Pandemic Prevention, Preparedness, and Response (known as the Pandemic Fund) — there are further opportunities within reach for breaking the cycle of “panic and neglect” on pandemics. The Annual Meetings provide a critical opportunity to reassert leadership, deliver finance at scale, and kick-start the package of measures needed to pandemic-proof our world. 

Specifically, the group of organizations call on G20 Leaders to:

  • Deliver finance at scale for low- and middle-income countries (LMICs).
    1. Channel US$100 billion in special drawing rights (SDRs) to the IMF’s Resilience and Sustainability Trust (RST).
    2. Release a roadmap to unlock new lending from multilateral development banks (MDBs).
  • Invest in pandemic prevention, preparedness, and response — with equity at its heart.
    1. Meet the Pandemic Fund’s US$10.5 billion target and advance a sustainable funding plan.
    2. Fund the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) 2.0, FIND — the global alliance for diagnostics — and public health institutes.
    3. Fund and support the Global Fund, Gavi, and other organizations also crucial to PPR. 
  • Prevent and prepare for the next pandemic by fixing gaps in the system and in policies.
    1. Endorse the creation of a high-level body to tackle global health threats and advance its set up through the UN High-Level Meeting for Pandemic Prevention, Preparedness, and Response in 2023.
    2. Ensure equitable access to pandemic countermeasures and initiate a process to address this gap now and for the future
    3. Reinforce the importance of a One Health approach.

Outbreaks can be prevented, and new pathogens can be contained — but ongoing pandemics are a political choice. Decisive leadership can deliver a path to health security for people worldwide, where most outbreaks can be prevented, and new pathogens can be contained. We already know the solutions and investments required. Against the consequences and harm of pandemics, their cost is not only modest but is also much less considering the human, economic, and health dividends they reap. 

Read the full letter. If your organization would like to sign the letter to G20 Leaders, please reach out to Aminata

 

A New Fund for Global Health Security and Pandemic Preparedness: Why, What, and How

Health experts from around the world have warned for years that countries, regional bodies, and global institutions must invest more in critical capacities to prevent, detect, and respond to epidemic and pandemic threats. In the wake of each global health emergency, leaders and experts have stressed the need to sustainably invest in and build capacity for health security at the local, regional, and global levels. While the International Health Regulations (IHRs) and Joint External Evaluations (JEEs) encourage capacity building and assess country-level readiness to prevent, detect, and rapidly respond to disease threats, these instruments have not been paired with structural support or sustained financing. Given the legacy of panic-and-neglect funding for pandemics and the cross-border nature of these threats, many countries have not prioritized investments in preparedness, leaving the entire world vulnerable to novel disease threats. 

In 2022, global leaders from governments, multilateral institutions, philanthropy, private sector, and civil society must converge to design, launch, and mobilize significant resources for a new Fund for Global Health Security and Pandemic Preparedness, toward a target capitalization of $10 billion annually — reflecting conservative cost estimates and recommendations of leading global finance and health experts. 

The aim of this brief is to explain what a new fund should do, why the world needs it, and how it can augment and bolster the existing global health ecosystem.

Read the issue brief here.

Statement — INB Public Hearings for a New International Instrument on Pandemic Preparedness & Response

In December 2021, the World Health Assembly (WHA) established an intergovernmental negotiating body (INB) to draft and negotiate an international instrument — supported by the World Health Organization (WHO) — to “strengthen pandemic prevention, preparedness and response.” In the decision establishing the INB, the WHA also requested the WHO to hold public hearings to inform its work and deliberations.

The first round of those public hearings took place April 12-13, 2022. In response to it, the Africa CSOs Working Group on Pandemic Preparedness and Response, convened by Pandemic Action Network and PATH, submitted the following substantive elements for inclusion in the new instrument:

  • Recognize and protect the role of regional institutions and initiatives in responding to pandemics and epidemics as central in coordination, procurement, and distribution of medical products and tools, and technical support to respective member states. Such regional institutions should work in a coherent manner with global institutions.
  • Establish and protect a global pandemic preparedness fund that involves countries across regions in its design, governance, and financing, with all countries contributing to such a fund, based on their ability to contribute. The fund should support health systems strengthening in geographies with weak health systems and should have a strong accountability mechanism.
  • Elevate and prioritize leadership for future pandemics through, for example, a Global Health Threats Council, with meaningful leadership and representation from low- and middle-income countries. This body’s role will be to map out a strategic response that works for both public and private players in the health space.
  • Prioritize and finance a globally networked surveillance and early-warning system with incentives for countries to share data on and sequence new variants and pathogens.
  • Guarantee equity in access to lifesaving tools: declaring such tools as public goods and; instituting a waiver of intellectual property rights along with immediate hands-on technology transfer for all medical products and tools during a pandemic to ensure the maximum number of lives are saved, prioritizing the most vulnerable communities.

President von der Leyen’s Opportunity to Change the Course of the Pandemic: Turning Vaccines Doses Into Urgent Funding to Fight COVID-19

This Friday, April 8, we have our eyes set on the 2022 Advanced Market Commitment (AMC) Summit — hosted by Germany and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance — and, in particular, on the role that the European Union (EU) plays in making it a success. The Summit aims to raise at least US$5.2 billion in urgent funds for COVAX — a key component of the Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator (ACT-A) that helps deliver vaccines to low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) around the globe. 

While the EU and other countries have already supported ACT-A’s life-saving work, there is still a substantial funding gap to cross the finishing line. Most of the resources pledged this Friday for COVAX will be used to ramp up vaccination in lower-income countries and cover in-country delivery and ancillary costs — such as storage, syringes, and transportation — that are currently hindering vaccination targets and risking the world’s progress against COVID-19.  

Among the different participants in this Friday’s Summit, the EU has a considerable margin to maneuver to make a significant contribution. In July 2021, the European Commission (EC) announced the EU’s commitment to donate 200 million vaccine doses to LMICs, setting aside €1.3 billion for this purpose. However, despite the welcomed act of solidarity, the EC hasn’t completed the purchase yet, creating a unique opportunity to use this money more wisely. 

Taking into account that the supply of vaccines is no longer the most pressing issue, but rather in-country logistics and distribution bottlenecks, the Commission should redirect those resources to meet COVAX’s target as well as ACT-A’s overall funding gap, currently estimated at €25 billion. The change in priority from vaccines to vaccination has been echoed by health authorities across LMICs. Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. John Nkengasong recently stated that the challenge is on delivery and even warned that “too many doses without the infrastructure or coordination to distribute them could lead to vaccines expiring”. 

The EU’s decision to turn the committed doses into a financial contribution — presently at the desk of the President of the European Commission Ursula Von der Leyen — could become a game-changer in the race to vaccinate the world. It would help drive vaccination rates up and still leave plenty of money to boost the diagnostics and therapeutics pillars of the ACT-A. Or in much simpler terms, such a reallocation of funds would ensure greater impact, while demonstrating that leaders are in tune with the changing realities on the ground.

Build the Health Workforce Back Better to Prevent Future Pandemics

Frontline health workers are crucial for pandemic preparedness and response but for too long health workers have largely been taken for granted. The assumption seems to be that they are already ready and able to jump into action, keep health services going, and scale up one or another specific health intervention.

Yet, of all the factors delaying access to COVID-19 testing, treatment, and care, health workforce challenges are the most cited bottleneck, according to a WHO survey of 129 countries. Vaccine delivery has also been delayed by workforce inadequacies.

WHO states that these challenges arise due to “a combination of pre-existing shortages [of health workers] coupled with unavailability due to COVID-19 infections and deaths, mental health issues and burnout and departures from service due to a lack of decent working conditions.”

The factor of gender cannot be ignored. The health workforce is largely female, and it is not a coincidence that remuneration for their labor is often inadequate or inconsistently provided. Only 14% of community health workers in Africa are salaried, with many considered “volunteers,” part of the broader injustice of women’s care labor not being compensated.

COVID-19 has shown this is not just theoretical. Now, and in future pandemics, we need a motivated and supported health workforce to ensure acceptance and delivery of vaccines, disease surveillance, and risk communication.

Join the Frontline Health Workers Coalition and partners for World Health Worker Week on April 4-8 to push donors and governments to do more to protect and support a resilient health workforce.

Here a few ways you can get involved in World Health Worker Week:

 

Photo courtesy of IntraHealth International.

Pandemic R&D Agenda for Action: Fostering Innovation to End This Pandemic and Prepare for the Next One

As the world commences the third year of the COVID-19 pandemic, the case for investment in research and development (R&D) for medical countermeasures to prevent and combat emerging global health threats is stronger than ever. Despite tremendous scientific accomplishments in 2020-21, systemic gaps in pandemic-related R&D systems, supply chains, manufacturing, and delivery continue to stymie the roll-out of urgently needed technologies to all people who need them, everywhere, and are prolonging the pandemic.

COVID-19 and its variants have exposed longstanding market and systems failures and fragilities that pose barriers to timely and effective pandemic R&D. Not only do these persistent gaps threaten to undo progress achieved through the scientific breakthroughs, but they also exacerbate entrenched inequalities that leave the most vulnerable and disadvantaged people around the globe without access to lifesaving medical countermeasures and essential health services, and perpetuate gross power imbalances between high- and low-income nations. COVID-19 has also unleashed a multitude of actors in pandemic-related R&D across the innovation spectrum and across the globe, underscoring the growing need for more purposeful alignment, coordination, information-sharing, and transparency.

The world urgently needs a fit-for-purpose, proactive, and resilient pandemic R&D ecosystem. There is broad consensus that R&D is a vital component of building a world better equipped to prevent, prepare for, and respond to pandemic threats. Yet new investments in innovation will fail to meet their promise to save lives, prevent future global health emergencies, and build a healthier, safer world for all unless governments, international institutions, and industry are willing to heed the hard lessons of this pandemic and work together to fix these systemic failures and challenges.

Produced by Global Health Technologies Coalition and Pandemic Action Network with contributions by members of the Pandemic Action Network’s Pandemic Preparedness Working Group, this policy brief calls on world leaders to prioritize action in four key areas to close the critical R&D, manufacturing, and delivery gaps necessary to end the acute COVID-19 crisis and build a more resilient, equitable pandemic R&D ecosystem for the future.

Read the full brief here.

The New Year’s Resolution That Matters Most: End the COVID Crisis

As we enter year three of this pandemic, COVID-19 is having a global field day. The virus is taking advantage of our failure as an international community to end this crisis. Cases are once again rising exponentially and hospitals are overflowing. Let us be clear: this is not a health crisis. This is a crisis of leadership and political will.

Yes, world leaders have a lot of competing and compounding crises on their policy plates. Climate change. Addressing inflation, economic instability, and broken supply chains. Cybersecurity. Political instability and conflict. Escalating economic inequality. Raging misinformation and disinformation. The list goes on and on. But as world leaders begin to tackle their own new year’s resolutions, there is one that must rise to the top of their list: End the COVID-19 crisis for everyone, everywhere, once and for all.

It’s tempting given the magnitude of all of these challenges — paired with pandemic fatigue — for political leaders to focus on other issues. That is foolish. There is no pandemic exit strategy for any country without a global strategy. There is no sustained economic recovery without ending this pandemic. There is no prospect of bridging social divides when the pandemic continues to prey on the most vulnerable and marginalized populations. There is no hope of strengthening health systems when we are burning out a generation of health workers. There is no winning when people are dying needlessly every single day.

Every day we let this pandemic continue is a day where we lose the opportunity for meaningful progress on other challenges to humanity.

Here are five things world leaders must-do in 2022 to end the COVID crisis.

1. Make a plan to end this crisis for everyone. It is unfathomable that we still don’t have a global plan of action for this pandemic. We have been calling for this since mid-2020. We call on world leaders to pull together to create a war room, modeled on a Global Health Threats Council suggested by The Independent Panel for Pandemic Preparedness and Response and backed by the G20 which needs to be truly global. Leaders should craft a plan, define leadership, and execute the plan.

2. Vaccinate the world. High-income countries are attempting to boost their way out of danger while still hoarding vaccine doses. Meanwhile, only 9.5% of people in low-income countries have received at least one dose. And, only one in four healthcare workers in Africa have been fully vaccinated. World leaders: Do whatever it takes to vaccinate the world to 70% by the middle of 2022. Invest in vaccine delivery and education, accelerate promised vaccine dose donations, and swap slots to put low- and middle-income countries at the front of the queue. Publish vaccine contracts, production schedules and pricing to give the public total transparency. “This is within reach, but only if a life in Mumbai matters as much as a life in Brussels, if a life in Sao Paulo matters as much as a life in Geneva, and if a life in Harare matters as much as a life in Washington DC,” said Dr. Ayoade Alakija, WHO Special Envoy for the ACT-Accelerator.

3. Pandemic-proof the planet. Leaders must end this crisis and prevent the next outbreak from turning into a pandemic on a parallel path. We call on world leaders to seize this opportunity to leave a legacy of a healthier and safer world — starting with the establishment and funding of a new global financing mechanism that provides robust and sustained investments in pandemic prevention and preparedness. History has shown that if action is not taken during a crisis, then political will dissipates once the crisis fades from view.

4. Get ahead of the next variant and next disease. What happens when new variants don’t hold up to vaccines or a new disease emerges and we don’t have the research and technology at the ready as we did relative to SARS-CoV-2? We are already experiencing some of this with Omicron — but the next disease could be more deadly. We call on world leaders to make pandemic-related investments a priority now and for the long-term so that every country has a plan, and we can get in front of new variants, diseases, and potential outbreaks. Now is the time to invest in moonshot approaches such as CEPI’s mission to develop pandemic-beating vaccines in 100 days.

5. Elevate pandemic preparedness and response as a leadership priority always. The persistent COVID-19 crisis along with resulting and compounding crises demonstrate that pandemics cut across global economics, personal livelihoods, global security, national security, and individual security. This is a crisis of leadership which demands better and more accountable systems for governing pandemics. It’s time to codify pandemic preparedness and response on leadership agendas at the highest levels. Heed the recommendations of The Independent Panel for Pandemic Preparedness and Response and establish a high-level Global Health Threats Council.

The year ahead is a tipping point in this crisis. In the cycle of “panic and neglect,” unbelievably we are teetering on neglect. World leaders have done a lot of things to respond to this crisis — denying it, wishing it away, looking around it, pretending it is over or can be managed within their own borders. Why are leaders unable, or unwilling to make the obvious connections?

World leaders: own this resolution. This year, do whatever it takes to end this crisis — and prevent another deadly and costly pandemic from happening again.

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.

Calling on World Leaders for A Global Summit to End the COVID-19 Pandemic

A global pandemic needs a global plan of attack.

A coalition of 80 global leaders and over 25 organizations across corporate, philanthropic, civil society, advocacy, academic, and health sectors is calling on world leaders attending the United Nations General Assembly to convene a global summit to ignite an urgent global action plan to end the pandemic.

This call-to-action was coordinated by the COVID Collaborative, Duke-Margolis Center for Health Policy, Duke Global Health Innovation Center, Duke Global Health Institute, and the Pandemic Action Network.

Read the full letter to world leaders here.

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. 

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.

It’s G7 Week — Will It Deliver the Global COVID-19 Plan We Desperately Need?

By Isabelle De Lichtervelde, Senior Program Officer, Policy & Advocacy

This week, all eyes will be on the G7 leaders as they meet in Cornwall for their annual Leaders’ Summit. At the gathering, leaders of the world’s seven largest advanced economies face two choices: they can either decide to take the fight against COVID-19 to another level and agree on a comprehensive global plan to end the pandemic everywhere for everyone or choose to continue with the piecemeal approach that has characterized the global response until now, thus prolonging this crisis for those who are most vulnerable. 

G7 Health Ministers and Finance Ministers met ahead of the Summit.

  • Health and Finance Ministers expressed their commitment to fully fund the Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator (ACT-A), which still has a US$18.1 billion funding gap in 2021. Health Ministers are open to considering the extension of ACT-A into 2022 alongside efforts to strengthen supply chains and boost global vaccine manufacturing capacity. 
  • Finance Ministers also expressed strong support for the new Special Drawing Rights (SDR) allocation, including a reallocation to countries in need. 
  • On pandemic preparedness, while Health Ministers welcomed the upcoming special session of the World Health Assembly to consider the benefits of a pandemic treaty, Finance Ministers are looking forward to the Pandemic Preparedness Partnership’s Report to G7 Leaders and the G20 High-Level Independent Panel’s findings, and will consider their recommendations, particularly on financing mechanisms.


In parallel, progress was made regarding intellectual property rights and the impact it has on manufacturing and global supply of COVID-19 tools. The Biden Administration recently expressed its (partial) support for the World Trade Organization (WTO) COVID-19 TRIPS Waiver proposal, and the
EU presented its own proposal on patents which it is introducing to the WTO.

Ultimately, both meetings’ communiqués included positive language on the global response.  While these are all steps in the right direction, eighteen months into the pandemic, we need G7 leaders to move beyond their “think big, act small” strategy. They need to think big and act fast. As they gather for the annual G7 Leadership Summit, leaders have one job: to deliver a comprehensive, coordinated roadmap that accelerates global vaccine access and delivery of vaccinations and other COVID-19 tools for everyone. This strategy should include:

  • A comprehensive costing to show what it would take to achieve at least 70% vaccination coverage in all countries, including analysis to identify gaps in supply, procurement, and resources needed in-country for the delivery for vaccines, treatments, and tests. 
  • A burden-sharing model to set out fair share contributions and fully fund global vaccination to reach 70% coverage as soon as possible (including fully funding ACT-A.)
  • A plan to urgently address the huge vaccine supply gap in low- and middle-income countries by sharing two billion doses at the Leaders’ Summit, delivering one billion by the end of August and the second billion by the end of 2021 in coordination with COVAX.

 

As part of this global plan, G7 countries must urgently share vaccine doses with countries in need. G7 countries have bought three billion more doses than they need to fully vaccinate their entire population to 70%. The G7 U.K. Presidency should lead by example by committing to share 100 million doses as soon as possible before the Leaders’ Summit, and others should follow suit, in particular Team Europe and the United States.

G7 leaders can make a difference for the world this week and finally deliver the desperately needed plan to end this deadly pandemic. Let’s hope they deliver.

Why We Need a ‘Rome Roadmap’ to Vaccinate the World

By Friederike Röder, Global Citizen; Eloise Todd, Pandemic Action Network; and Emily Wigens, The ONE Campaign

We need a global roadmap to vaccinate the world — and we need it now. The scenes emerging from India are a harrowing reminder that unequal distribution of vaccines puts everyone at risk. More contagious forms of the virus are already evolving, increasing the risk of a new mutation that resists current vaccines.

Global access to vaccines is the fastest way to end the pandemic, but if rich countries monopolise supply and only vaccinate themselves, twice as many people could die — and the costs could stack up to an additional US$9 trillion. 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 now account for 30.7% of global deaths, compared to 9.3% a month ago.

That’s why the EU and its Member States must seize the opportunity of the Global Health Summit on 21 May and the 24-25 May European Council meeting by taking the following actions: 

  • Develop a global roadmap to vaccinate the world to reach global immunity as soon as possible, raising the level of ambition and offering the political leadership needed to deliver vaccines across the world. The EU and Member States should coordinate globally so that all efforts to deliver COVID-19 vaccines are mapped, mutually reinforcing, and avoid duplication. This strategy should include a comprehensive costing to show what it would take to vaccinate 70% of the world, and should also include analysis to identify gaps in supply, procurement, and resources needed in-country for the delivery for vaccines, treatments, and tests.
  • Immediately contribute to the call for high-income countries to share 1 billion doses by September, and 2 billion by the end of the year, sharing surplus doses via, or in coordination with, COVAX. This year, EU Member States will have at least 690 million doses more than they need to vaccinate 100% of their populations, and in many EU Member States the supply of COVID-19 vaccines will soon outstrip demand. Several Member States have stepped up with commitments to share doses, other leaders should urgently follow in their footsteps. Unearmarked doses should be donated immediately, in parallel with national vaccination rollouts, or when countries have vaccinated 20% of their populations at the latest. Moving forward, the EU should avoid purchasing more doses than necessary to fully cover its own population and should make its own contracts conditional upon pharmaceuticals making deals with COVAX at not-for-profit pricing.
  • Contribute their fair share towards fully funding the current and future ACT-Accelerator funding gaps, estimated to be at least $66 billion, in 2021 and ensuring a fair distribution between the Therapeutics, Diagnostics and Vaccines Pillars, as well as the Health System Connector. The European Commission should contribute at least an additional €1.2 billion and all EU Member States should meet their fair share in financing for ACT-A. This is the best investment they can currently make. This should pave the way for the whole of the G7 to close the current funding gap of $18.5 billion by at least 60% as soon as possible.
  • Support all means necessary to increase global supply of COVID-19 tools. It is imperative that governments and industry use every tool in their toolbox to dismantle the barriers that delay truly global access to COVID-19 vaccines, tests, and medicine. The world needs a total of 11 billion vaccine doses to achieve herd immunity, but according to estimates, we’re at best at a capacity level of 8.5 billion. The EU should lead the way on building a roadmap on producing those additional vaccine doses and future boosters, using all means necessary, both in lifting IP barriers and in ensuring sufficient manufacturing capacity. This could range from the temporary waiver of COVID-19 intellectual property rights, alongside additional licensing, technology transfers, and the elimination of trade-related barriers such as export bans. In parallel, the EU should launch an initiative to increase manufacturing capacity in LICs and LMICs, helping to bring private investors on board, and support the WHO’s mRNA Tech-Transfer Hub.

European leadership should take the fight against COVID-19 to the next level by taking urgent action now, with the aim to protect every person in the world, save the maximum amount of lives, and stop the spread of dangerous variants that will harm all of us. The world is playing catch-up on an equitable response. Now is the time for a reset with a strategic plan to reach 70% globally, dose sharing immediately, and investment in purchasing vaccines and other life saving tools — as well as action to kickstart medium-term supplies through licensing, tech transfer, and investment in production capacity. All these elements are needed.

It’s time for the EU’s leaders to deliver, at the Global Health Summit and at their Summit next week.

Friederike Roder is the vice president for global advocacy at Global Citizen, Eloise Todd is the co-founder of Pandemic Action Network, and Emily Wigens is the EU director at The ONE Campaign.

Two Ways to Take Action for India Now

Gabrielle Fitzgerald, Co-founder, Pandemic Action Network

This weekend’s sunshine and blue skies had what seemed like the entire population of Seattle outside enjoying the early summer weather.  Everywhere you went, people were enjoying the sunshine—it almost felt like COVID-19 was a bad dream that we’d finally woken up from.

But, we know that isn’t true… The past weeks have marked the highest number of COVID-19 cases the world has recorded to date. Since the beginning of this pandemic, COVID-19 has exposed and amplified our inequities. Now, as the U.S. has accelerated vaccination (even for youth) and has preemptively given Americans the chance to take off their masks and enjoy summer, the pandemic rages around the world.

Most notably, India is in the grips of a terrible and all-too-real nightmare. India currently has the highest daily number of COVID-19 cases and deaths of any country in the world. Official totals from India’s health ministry report 24.6 million total COVID-19 cases and 274,000 deaths. Daily case counts range between 350,000 to 400,000, with most experts believing these numbers are significantly underplaying the extent of the disease.

Dr. Ashish Jha of Brown University, believes deaths caused by COVID-19 in India could be closer to 25,000 to 50,000 per day, and new infections happening each day in India could be between two million and five million.

So, while we should celebrate our progress here in the U.S. and hug our loved ones, we must understand that we are not out of the woods. With variants and the nature of COVID-19 waves, we must understand that only together can we truly end this pandemic for everyone. Now is the time to support the needs of India and other countries who are facing dire consequences from the disease, while also advocating for equitable distribution of COVID-19 vaccines and access to life-saving supplies.

On Friday, WHO Director General Tedros spoke of his bittersweet feeling as he received his COVID-19 vaccine.  While he celebrated the “triumph of science,” he lamented the fact that only 0.03% of the vaccine supply is going to low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). A New York Times vaccine tracker shows that many countries are yet to administer a single dose of the vaccine.

Meanwhile, access to basic medical supplies like oxygen remains challenging in many countries, as documented by the COVID Oxygen Needs Tracker. According to Dr. Marc Biot, MSF Director of Operations, “Oxygen is the single most important medicine for severe and critical COVID-19 patients. Yet oxygen supply is often insufficient because infrastructure has been neglected in lower- and middle-income countries for decades.” The crisis in India, now spreading to Nepal and other nearby countries, highlights that oxygen is the most critical medicine for people with severe COVID-19 and 18 months into the pandemic, oxygen supply is under-resourced and LMICs are often the last in line.

Stories in the media and from colleagues in India provide devastating details on the crushing burden faced by hospitals and health care providers, as well as stories of entire families being lost to COVID-19 in a matter of days.

While we have seen donations from governments, businesses, and philanthropies to respond to the humanitarian crises in India, they don’t seem to meet the scale of the problem.  And the breadth of these challenges can make it seem as if there is little an individual can do to help, but individuals and organizations can make a difference in this unprecedented situation.

Here are two ways to take action for India now:

Dasra was established more than 20 years ago to channel funds from philanthropists to small non-governmental organizations across the country. Over this time, they have built the capacity of more than 1,000 organizations to provide services to their communities. With the COVID-19 crisis, they set up the #BacktheFrontLine COVID Emergency Fund to provide immediate resources to 50 of their trusted, high-impact partners who work in local communities providing a range of services to respond to the emergency.

Oxygen for India is a new initiative created by Dr. Ramanan Laxminarayan of the Center for Disease Dynamics, Economics & Policy. A long-time health researcher currently based in Delhi, Ramanan quickly mobilized a large network of partners to provide reusable oxygen cylinders and 3,000 oxygen concentrators for hospitals in Delhi and Kolkata. This volunteer-led program has utilized local knowledge and relationships with global connections to procure 40,000 oxygen cylinders.  When an emergency hits, a catalytic coalition made up of individuals and organizations who jump in to help can sometimes move quicker than large, established organizations with complex procurement processes and bureaucracies.

These are two of the many organizations who desperately need funding, and both organizations can receive tax deductible donations from U.S. citizens.

While we in the U.S. are reconnecting with family and friends we haven’t seen in a year, please take a moment to think of the desperate need of so many families in India and other countries around the world.

And for those who are celebrating the end of COVID-19 in the U.S., India should be a cautionary tale.  Less than six weeks before the surge of new coronavirus infections, government officials said India was at “the endgame” of the pandemic.  At that time, India had 11,000 cases per day, and an average of about 100 deaths.  Here in the U.S., we still have almost 800 deaths per day.

We are still fighting this pandemic. In today’s interconnected world, COVID-19 anywhere is COVID-19 everywhere.

 

Call-to-Action to African Leaders: Scale Up COVID-19 Testing Now

As the world looks back on one full year of living in the COVID-19 pandemic, the response is still far from over. With only 41 million tests conducted in Africa since the start of the pandemic, and 28,030 tests conducted per million people (well below the Africa CDC-recommended optimal testing level of 75,000 tests per million people), there is an urgent need for African Union (AU) member states to scale-up testing. In spite of disruptions in the global supply chain for COVID-19 tools, including diagnostics, there has been a slow but steady increase in testing. However, the continent needs a rapid scale up of testing for better epidemiological management of the pandemic in order to keep economies open and save lives. Without sufficient testing, we are fighting the pandemic blindly.

Africa CDC and Partners Working Group on Testing, of which Pandemic Action Network is a member, has developed a letter signed by Center for Global Health Security and Diplomacy, FIND Diagnostics, PSI, Right to Health Action, and WACI Health, and three advocacy networks each composed of 100+ members (Pandemic Action Network, Global Fund Advocacy Network, and Treatment Action Group).

The call-to-action is directed to African Ministers of Health urging them to:

  • Order quality-assured antigen tests  
  • Ensure sufficient budget for procurement of antigen tests and testing this fiscal year
  • Ensure sufficient budget for procurement of lower-priced PCR tests for COVID-19 and other diseases including TB, HIV, and Hepatitis C

Read the call-to-action letter here and contact [email protected] to take part in the advocacy efforts with AU leaders.

Guaranteeing Equitable Access: Considerations During Vaccine Development Impacting Global Access

As world leaders come together to strategize how best to inoculate against, test for, and treat COVID-19 across the world, they must prioritize equity in their agendas to end this pandemic as swiftly as possible. The Pandemic Action Network’s Ending Barriers to Equitable Access Working Group has crafted a briefing with key considerations for decision-makers to ensure vaccines, therapeutics, and diagnostics reach those who need it most, when they need it most. We are all at risk until this disease is defeated internationally. We must ensure that low- and middle-income countries and vulnerable groups have equitable access to the tools needed to fight COVID-19 on every front. Read the full paper here.

Contributors to the paper include Deutsche Stiftung Weltbevölkerung (DSW), Global Citizen, Global Health Technologies Coalition (GHTC), PATH, and VillageReach. Special thank you to DSW for design support.

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.

Pandemic Action Network’s Statement of Support for Full Funding of the Act Accelerator

Statement from Carolyn Reynolds and Eloise Todd, Co-Founders, Pandemic Action Network

“Today was anToday was an important step forward for global solidarity and toward the global goal of ensuring safe, equitable and affordable access to vaccines, therapeutics and diagnostics for COVID-19 as soon as possible.  The Pandemic Action Network warmly welcomes funding commitments from Canada, Germany, Norway, Sweden, the United Kingdom, and the World Bank that will help deliver more COVID-19 tools in developing countries. We urge all governments and international funders to follow their lead and ensure full funding for the Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator.  In addition, we strongly commend the unprecedented 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. As the communique rightly says, these commitments will not only enable a faster path out of the current COVID-19 crisis but will also lay the foundation for a strong pandemic preparedness ecosystem the next time a pandemic arises.”

GPMB to World Leaders: Now Will You Listen?

By Carolyn Reynolds, Co-Founder Pandemic Action Network

 

We warned you, but you did not listen.  That’s the overarching message of the new report from the Global Preparedness Monitoring Board (GPMB) entitled A World in Disorder.  In their inaugural report one year ago, the GPMB warned of the risk of a high impact, respiratory pathogen that could quickly spread around the globe.  Now in their latest report with a starker cover and a sterner title and narrative―much like parents admonishing their delinquent teenagers―the current and former global health elders that make up the GPMB are wagging their fingers and telling world leaders: you’re out of chances.

This year’s report echoes many of the main messages from last year’s (and from many other expert commissions in recent years), including: national political leadership is paramount; investing in preparedness is not only about saving lives, it’s about protecting economies; the impact―and hence the solutions―of pandemic preparedness go well beyond the health sector, and require a One Health approach; and no one in the world is safe until everyone is safe.

Four recommendations in the report that are particularly welcome:

The UN Secretary General should convene a UN Summit on Global Health Security with heads of state, the WHO Director General, and heads of the International Financial Institutions to forge a new international preparedness and response framework.

Create a new sustainable financing mechanism for global health security that incentivizes nations to prioritize preparedness and recognizes it as a global common good that should not be at the mercy of political and economic cycles.  This echoes the call of many of our Network partners for a Global Health Security Challenge Fund.

Amend the International Health Regulations (IHRs) to improve access to information and increase member state accountability beyond the scope of the current IHRs.  This will be politically fraught but unavoidable to drive the change necessary.

Finance global health R&D as a public good by building on the unprecedented international scientific collaboration around COVID-19 to create a sustainable, coordinated global R&D financing and delivery mechanism to facilitate rapid R&D for epidemic-risk and novel diseases and ensure that every country has an affordable and reliable pathway to secure vaccines, therapeutics, diagnostics, and other medical countermeasures for health emergencies when they need them.

Unfortunately (although not surprisingly), the request for a high-level summit was stripped from the omnibus COVID-19 resolution passed by this year’s UN General Assembly, a casualty of the highly polarized geopolitical environment. But advocates should not be deterred.  Such a summit to prioritize pandemics as a grave global security threat, secure high-level political commitments, and drive a new international consensus and accountability is the right call to action.  The Pandemic Action Network and our partners will be pressing world leaders to convene this summit before the end of 2021―this should happen as soon as possible after the Independent Panel on Preparedness and Response delivers its report to the World Health Assembly next May.  To ensure this results in meaningful change by governments and international institutions, the planning should get underway now.

Does this year’s GPMB report have a better chance than its predecessor to convince policymakers to act?  I am cautiously optimistic, for two reasons. First, its warning is no longer hypothetical. The COVID-19 pandemic is still unfolding before our eyes, with no end yet in sight, and it looks likely to get worse before it gets better as we see resurgences around the globe and flu season gets underway.  If there was ever a time that political leaders may be open to do something, this should be it.

Second, we now have a global advocacy effort focused on preparedness to take up these calls for action and hold national and global leaders to account.  GPMB co-chair As Sy, the former Secretary-General of the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, said we need “a global movement of solidarity” committed to inclusion, partnership and compassion to make the world safer from pandemics.  The Pandemic Action Network is dedicated to growing this movement: In a few short months we have brought together more than 40 organizations with global reach to drive collective action to end this pandemic and help prevent the next one.  And we are just getting started.

At the GPMB report launch, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said, “If we do not learn these lessons now and take the steps necessary, when will we? This will not be the last pandemic or global health emergency.  Every day we stand by and do nothing is another day we come closer to the next disaster.  We don’t know what it will be, but we know it will come―and we must prepare.  When it comes to preparedness, our biggest obstacle is ourselves.”

The warnings are crystal clear. So, will leaders listen this time and do what is required to prepare for the next pandemic? The Pandemic Action Network is here to make sure they do.  Join us!

What We Want to Hear from G20 Finance Ministers This Week: A Commitment to Invest Billions Today, to Save Trillions Tomorrow, and to Make It Equitable

Nobody had expected that 2020 would be the year of humanity’s worst crisis since World War II. Yet experts had repeatedly warned of the risk of a pandemic for over a decade, urging leaders to prioritise preparedness efforts. The majority of them simply didn’t listen, and when the first case of COVID-19 emerged, the world wasn’t prepared for it.

COVID-19 will not be the last new disease to appear and take advantage of our interconnected world to flourish. What we’ve been going through this year could (and will) happen again if we don’t invest in pandemic preparedness and prevention. Our leaders must not fail us another time. They must act now to prepare for a brighter and more resilient future for everyone, everywhere.

Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors from the G20 will be meeting this week. Here are three things they should commit to rid the world of COVID-19, deliver equitable access to innovations, and prevent future pandemics:

  • Close the funding gap to meet the ACT-Accelerator needs. The overall costs for the ACT-Accelerator published on 26 June are set at $31.3bn for the next 12 months, with an urgent funding need of $13.7bn, which the world needs to raise as soon as possible for crucial upstream investments. It is vital to provide the ACT-Accelerator with the funding it needs to secure urgent COVID-19 tools like vaccines, diagnostics and therapeutics, invest in health systems strengthening and crucially get them to every corner of the world, regardless of personal or national wealth.
  • Urgently provide life-saving humanitarian assistance to Africa CDC and other regional humanitarian hubs to ensure frontline access to Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and other vital supplies in vulnerable countries with the greatest need.
  • Commit to an urgent, time-bound, transparent and credible process for the adoption and full financing of a global compact for pandemic preparedness and prevention. 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. We urgently need a plan to ensure that every country has the capacity to detect, prevent and respond to future outbreaks before they become deadly and costly pandemics.

 

COVID-19 is strongly imperiling progress towards the SDGs. The G20 must act fast to put to the world back on track and ensure no one is left behind.

What Happened? Global Citizen and European Commission’s Global Goal: Unite for Our Future

For anyone that missed Saturday’s Global Goal: Unite for our Future, here’s what happened. 

First, sitting down to a pledging summit, you don’t necessarily expect to be entertained, educated and inspired. Saturday’s Summit managed all three–and that was before the concert event started. The two hours were dedicated to short, sharp panel discussions between the video clips of leaders giving pledges as well as featuring some partners. The Summit highlighted the role of the real heroes of this pandemic – the health care workers, the scientists, the front line workers, the researchers working hard to keep us safe, treat COVID-19 patients and find cures for and vaccines against this killer disease. Highlights included Miley Cyrus teaming up with Erna Solberg and some moving conversations about the Black Lives Matter protests across the world. Connections were made about the disproportionate suffering of Black people and other minorities in the pandemic as well as through racism. These racial justice segments deeply enriched the Summit and were very rooted in the moment.

But what did the Summit concretely achieve? Two key things: finance for international aspects of the COVID-19 fight and strong political support for making sure this pandemic is ended globally. On finance, the event raised an astonishing $6.9bn in grants and loans to fight COVID-19. Host Ursula von der Leyen got the afternoon off to an incredible start by announcing a €4.9bn loan from the European Investment Bank for the global recovery. 

Other notable contributions included a €383m pledge from Angela Merkel and smaller contributions from a wide range of countries. Global Citizen helpfully published more details after the Summit. Much of the funding raised will go to the Action for COVID Tools Accelerator, with other funds to the World Food Programme, UNFPA and others to combat the impacts the disease is having on many poor communities. Much-welcomed pledges to the WHO were made by Belgium, Qatar, Sweden and others. Increasing multi-donor support for WHO will be more important than ever to fill the financing gap looming with the recent US announcement of its intent to terminate relations with WHO.

The Pandemic Action Network and others have been calling on the European Commission to work with the EIB to extend much-needed liquidity for the global response. Just as countries (and regional blocs like the EU) have borrowed huge amounts to help their own economies recover, we need the same level of ambition for the global recovery and this is a great start.

Thanks to Global Citizen’s policing of the pledges, every announcement referred to new money (a few leaders included references to money pledged before in their video submissions, but they didn’t count in the total) – a huge leap forward in transparency that will help all of us better track funding and disbursements and save precious time. 

Second, the breadth and depth of global solidarity was on full display. Leader after leader pledged money, but also strong commitments to working together across the world to end this pandemic. President von der Leyen set the tone by calling Saturday a ‘stress test for solidarity’. Jacinda Ardern ended her piece with ‘we are all in this together’ and leaders from France, Canada, Belgium, Spain, Norway, Singapore, Switzerland and the US ambassador to the UN all called for this crisis to be resolved multilaterally. It was also great to hear Johnson & Johnson commit to producing a COVID-19 vaccine on a not-for-profit basis.

The model for Saturday’s Summit changed the way we will do business during this time of COVID, this time of increased poverty, and amid the racial justice protests that have spread across the world to stand up for equality. When President von der Leyen closed the Summit with “we are in this for the long haul, and we will use all of our convening power for the common good” there are many of us that welcome that statement and we will hold her to it! The collective leadership shown on Saturday is needed for the long haul. Now we need to plan how to raise the rest of the emergency funds the world needs as well as the investments needed to make sure this never happens again. We simply cannot afford not to.

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.