Calling for Bold Pandemic Action at the EU-AU Summit

African and European civil society organizations (CSOs) call on leaders in advance of the African Union (AU) – European Union (EU) Summit on February 17-18, 2022, to show solidarity in ending not only the COVID-19 crisis but also responding to global epidemics including HIV, tuberculosis, and malaria and put in place mechanisms and resources to build resilience and prepare for future pandemics. It’s time for strong and sustained political will, collective alignment, and integrated end-to-end approaches. We call on leaders to adopt the following actions at the Summit:

  1. Tackle the crisis of inequitable access to COVID-19 vaccines, and support vaccination programs
  2. Address the crisis of inequitable access to COVID-19 tools, including tests, treatments, oxygen, and PPE
  3. Invest in and strengthen the research and development (R&D) capacity in Africa
  4. Support Africa’s mRNA Technology Transfer Hub and agree to waive intellectual property (IP) for COVID-19 vaccines and other medical tools
  5. Support health systems strengthening in African countries to enable prevention, detection and response to new and existing threats
  6. Reform and strengthen multilateralism

Humanity deserves a world where every country is equipped to end the COVID-19 crisis and every country is prepared to stop infectious disease outbreaks from becoming deadly and costly pandemics. 

Read the full letter.

Organizations are welcome to sign on to the letter by Feb. 17, 2022. If your organization would like to sign on, please reach out to Aminata Wurie.

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.

Why Masking Up Matters More Than Ever

By Gabrielle Fitzgerald, CEO and Founder of Panorama & Co-Founder of Pandemic Action Network

In May, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) told vaccinated Americans they could take off their masks. Many public health officials and advocates, including the Pandemic Action Network, questioned this shift, especially as so many Americans remained unvaccinated. In response, Anne Hoen, an epidemiologist at Dartmouth College, said, “Wearing masks should probably be one of the last things we stop doing.” This statement has stuck with me. To protect the most vulnerable, the unvaccinated and actually stop the spread of COVID-19, we need to deploy all our tools until the end.

And when it comes to wearing a mask, the science is clear: masking in public can provide another layer of protection and help prevent the virus from spreading to others who aren’t protected, regardless of vaccination status.

Now two months after the CDC guidance shift, we are seeing accelerated spread of the COVID-19 Delta variant. In the U.S., every state is reporting increasing COVID-19 cases, thus demonstrating that relying on the honor system and local guidance alone is insufficient.

“Vaccines do not equal the end of the pandemic,” my Pandemic Action Network co-founder Eloise Todd shared with Forbes. “With vaccines and other precautions like face masks, we moved so close to normal. Why would we now move away from these measures?”

I agree. More than ever, it’s important that we stay focused on what can keep us all safe.

This month the Pandemic Action Network once again catalyzed our network of 130+ partners to ignite a global movement around the importance of continued masking.

With #ThanksForMasking selfies from leaders from Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, to Smita Sabharwal, WHO Director General Dr. Tedros, and Dr. Tom Frieden and key messages shared by organizations like UNICEF, Africa CDC, and 3M, this year’s World Mask Week campaign reached 250M+ people and was shared in 171 countries, or nearly 90% of countries around the world.

(Side note, if you’re interested in partnering with us to reach communities in the other 25 countries we didn’t reach, like Burkina Faso, Cyprus, and Chad, we’d love to talk!)

World Mask Week 2021 came at an absolutely critical time in the COVID-19 pandemic. Many countries, like the U.S., with access to vaccines were in the process of opening up, dropping mask-wearing guidance, and ignoring the fact that the pandemic is very much not over for the majority of people around the world. In fact, countries like Bangladesh, Indonesia, India, and many others in Africa and Latin America, are suffering some of their worst peaks of this pandemic yet. And, they are not alone, the more contagious Delta variant is sparking COVID-19 spikes around the globe, including countries with relatively high vaccination rates, such as the U.S. and the United Kingdom.

But sadly, we have moved away from consistent mask-wearing and World Mask Week was a reminder that not only should we continue to mask up, but we need clear and consistent masking guidance at the national level in order to stop the spread of COVID-19.

While World Mask Week turned up the volume of this key call-to-action, there is urgent work to be done to ensure masking up is fundamental to our collective COVID-19 response. The fact is not lost on us that World Mask Week concluded the day before the U.K. celebrated “freedom day.” And, here in the U.S., Los Angeles Country reinstated an indoor masking order amidst an alarming rise in coronavirus cases.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, White House chief medical adviser, recently disclosed that U.S. health officials are actively considering a revision to the mask guidance. However, as of this article’s publish date, the Center for Disease Control has not updated their guidance for full vaccinated individuals. As we shared in a policy brief this month, masking still matters, and governments, businesses, and individuals all have a role to play in normalizing mask-wearing to protect those who are most vulnerable and to end this pandemic for everyone.

That’s why we’re so thankful for all of our partners who participated in World Mask Week this year and helped amplify our collective #ThanksForMasking call-to-action. And, we will continue to rally around this issue and not mask the truth when it comes to the importance of the simple and effective act of mask-wearing.

#ThanksForMasking and continue to mask up until we end this pandemic for everyone.

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. 

Calling on the European Union to Fund the Global Fight Against COVID-19

Significantly more funding is needed to accelerate the end of the COVID-19 pandemic for everyone. The Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator (ACT-A) is facing a US$16.9B funding gap in 2021 as of late June 2021, and latest estimates anticipate at least US$50B-55B to fully vaccinate the world.

With the European Union (EU) currenting negotiating its budget for 2022, Pandemic Action Network is joining other civil society organizations (CSOs) to call on the EC to contribute its fair share of another €1.2B for ACT-A in 2021 and more in 2022 to fully fund any future roadmaps to vaccinate the world. This funding should not be at the detriment of other global health and human development priorities but should come from other recommended budget lines.

Read the letter here. If your organization wishes to join the letter, please email Isabelle De Lichtervelde.

Why Smooth Vaccine Rollout And Social Proof are Key to COVID-19 Acceptance and Trust

Note: Policy recommendations to decision makers available here

Since the world began to entertain viable vaccines as a real prospect in the fight against COVID-19, we have been confronting the challenge of vaccine hesitancy and navigating what is required to address this challenge. While recent surveys show that vaccination intent has been on the rise globally, increasing hopes that the world will be able to turn the tide on the pandemic relatively soon, the dynamic nature of this pandemic shows that vaccination intent and trust correlates to vaccine access, management of vaccine rollout, and social proof.

The challenge of vaccine hesitancy to end the pandemic
Vaccine hesitancy remains a looming threat to the successful rollout of vaccines and the prospect of ending the COVID-19 pandemic globally. The “anti-vax industry” is well-financed and organized, and determined to spread doubt as to the safety and efficacy of COVID-19 vaccines. A study by Imperial College found that hesitancy around COVID-19 vaccines could lead to thousands of extra deaths. The study, from March 2021, compares current levels of hesitancy compared to the ideal level of uptake. The potential risk is particularly acute in countries like France, where vaccination intent is among the lowest. France could see 8.7 times more deaths in 2021/22 than it would under the ideal level of uptake. This compares to just 1.3 times more in the U.K., which has among the highest vaccination intent.

In many countries, one of the main reasons for vaccine hesitancy is that corners have been cut due to the speed of the clinical trials, and that unknowable long-term side effects potentially exist.

In addition, conflicting public health messages have led to increased mistrust from the public. For example, inconsistent guidance on face-coverings earlier in the pandemic has primed people to distrust proclamations about vaccine safety and efficacy. This has led to many people wanting to “wait and see” real-world proof of safety and efficacy before getting a shot. As a result, a critical element of increasing COVID-19 vaccine uptake is building vaccine confidence among this “wait and see” group, the moveable middle.

“Wait and see” approach to COVID-19 vaccines

Because of concerns on the speed of development and potential unknown side effects, a share of the population wants to “wait and see” how the COVID-19 vaccines work for other people before they get vaccinated themselves.

The share of people in this “wait and see” category has declined since vaccines have started rolling out globally.

Smooth rollout and social proof as tools to increase vaccine trust among the “wait and see”
The emerging evidence, including from the U.K. vaccine rollout, shows that social proofing through communication about widespread acceptance and a fast and uninterrupted vaccine rollout seems to increase trust in COVID-19 vaccines. The more people get vaccinated and the more people hear about others getting vaccinated, the more normal it becomes. A study by Rockefeller Foundation from March 2021 found that social proof of others getting immunized and seeing the tangible benefits that come with it might be the most determining factor in motivating people to get vaccinated.1 In their study they found that among U.S. adults who weren’t sure they’ll get the vaccine, 43% said they were waiting for more people to get vaccinated before they do so themselves. Other research found that people are more willing to get the COVID-19 vaccine when hearing about its popularity, suggesting that public health officials should communicate about the growing and widespread intention to get vaccinated among the population rather than overstating vaccine hesitancy. Finally, in a study conducted amongst 18-30 year olds in the U.K., study participants reported slightly stronger intentions to take the vaccine when they learn that 85% of others plan to take the vaccine, versus 45% of others.

The U.K. is a good example of how social proofing and a smooth rollout may help address vaccine hesitancy, particularly among the “wait and see” group. The U.K.’s rollout strategy has been to vaccinate as many people as possible from the start. Within the U.K., the Welsh rollout program has been the speediest in the world, faster than Israel. A key element of that was the decision to delay the administration of second doses in order to get a first dose in as many arms as possible, as quickly as possible. Experts believe that the speed of the U.K. rollout and the decision to delay second doses had an important impact on attitudes towards COVID-19 vaccines. Another important component of the U.K. strategy has been to proactively emphasize the widespread uptake of COVID-19 vaccines, for example social media posts such as “Join the millions already vaccinated.” With more and more people knowing or hearing about someone who had had their first vaccination, it helped build momentum as well as create social proof to build trust and convince those in the “wait and see” category to eventually get vaccinated.  

In January, 90% of people in the U.K. said that they would either probably or definitely take a COVID-19 vaccine, up 7% since December, when the rollout started. Just two months later (March 2021), the proportion of adults who said they would not be likely to get vaccinated had more than halved since December — from 14% to just 6%. Between January and March, 53% of adults shifted to a more positive attitude — either already receiving a jab or reporting that they are now more likely to do so. According to Imperial College’s Year Review of ‘COVID-19 Global Behaviours and Attitudes’, of the 29 countries surveyed for study,  the U.K. had the highest intention of vaccination among those not yet vaccinated in April 2021 (67% of those not yet vaccinated), and had the lowest share of respondents who stated they were worried about side-effects (27%).

The U.K. also had a different response to the AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson (J&J) blood clotting issues compared to the U.S. and many European countries.  The U.K. did not pause the use of the AstraZeneca shot, instead it simply updated its guidelines advising people with a predisposition to blood clots and those under 30 (in April) and subsequently under 40 (in May), to get an alternative shot. Research and pollings indicate that the U.K.’s ‘restrained reaction’ helped keep hesitancy low. A study found there was no change in the intentions and attitudes of the U.K. public in the aftermath of the blood clot story. A YouGov poll in April suggested this led to only a minor decrease in trust. The number who considered the drug to be unsafe ticked up only slightly, from 9% in March to 13% in April, with still 75% of Britons considering the vaccine to be very or somewhat safe. 

The impact of pauses on vaccine trust globally
After extremely rare cases of blood clots, unlike the U.K., a number of governments in the U.S. and Europe temporarily paused the roll-out of the AstraZeneca or J&J vaccines. These pauses have had a significant impact on public trust, not only in the countries where the rollout was paused, but globally. 

Despite the European Medicines Agency (EMA) safety committee’s recommendation from 11 March “that the vaccine’s benefits continue to outweigh its risks and the vaccine can continue to be administered while investigation of cases of thromboembolic events is ongoing”, at least 13 European countries paused the use of the AstraZeneca shot. Skepticism in France and Germany increased rapidly after the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine was paused over blood clot concerns in March. In a YouGov poll conducted in March, 32% of Germans said the AstraZeneca vaccine was safe, down from 42% a month before. Confusion also plagued the rollout of the AstraZeneca vaccine in European countries, further tarnishing the shot’s reputation. For example, in February when it finally started using the AstraZeneca vaccine, German health officials decided to restrict its use to people under 65. It took until March 4 for Germany to update its guidelines and recommend AstraZeneca’s use for people over 65. Just 11 days later, on March 15, Germany paused its use entirely for several days over blood clot concerns. Finally, on March 30, Germany officials tweaked their recommendations yet again, limiting its use to people over 60. In the case of France, it all started with a comment by French President Emmanuel Macron in January incorrectly describing the shot as “quasi-ineffective” for people over the age of 65. Like Germany, French officials then also did a U-turn on their age restriction guidelines in addition to pausing the vaccine use for a few days in mid-March.   

In the US, public trust in the safety of the J&J shot was down to 37% after the government paused the rollout in April, compared to 52% before the announcement. A Washington Post-ABC News poll from mid-April found significant mistrust in the J&J vaccine after health officials paused its use with fewer than 1 in 4 Americans not yet immunized willing to get the shot. The Kaiser Family Foundation COVID-19 Vaccine Monitor found that in early May less than half of Americans believed the J&J vaccine was safe, and concerns about potential side effects had increased among those not yet vaccinated, especially women. About one in five unvaccinated adults say the news caused them to change their mind about getting a COVID-19 vaccine. The Monitor also found indications that concerns about side effects from the vaccines in general had increased following the pause, particularly among women. The reputation of the AstraZeneca vaccine that has not been approved for use in the U.S. yet has also been damaged by blood clotting concerns and temporary suspension in Europe. Only 38% of Americans surveyed in April 2021 considered the AstraZeneca vaccine safe.  In contrast, trust in the Pfizer-BioNTech (Pfizer) and Moderna vaccines appeared unaffected. The Ad Council found that conservatives, in particular, increased in skepticism after the J&J pause.2

Even beyond Europe and the U.S., these short pauses and confusion around age restrictions have damaged the reputation of the AstraZeneca and J&J shots around the world, including in low-income settings where they are particularly crucial. Both the J&J and AstraZeneca vaccines that use adenovirus-vector technology have raised hopes of better global access and, in the case of the J&J shot, faster rollout. These vaccines are less expensive, more stable, and easier to distribute than their mRNA-based counterparts from Moderna and Pfizer. Because they are less expensive and easier to store than Moderna’s or Pfizer’s, and the J&J vaccine requires only one dose, these shots have been considered particularly crucial for less developed and hard-to-reach parts of the world. Yet, experts raised concerns that short suspensions in Europe and the U.S. may further hit an already fragile vaccine confidence in low-income countries and threaten to undermine vaccination campaigns in these settings. Cameroon, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Indonesia, and Thailand all suspended the AstraZeneca vaccine rollout following pauses in European countries. Concerns about rare blood clots on top of the rubbishing of COVID-19 vaccines by some African leaders and confusion over expiry dates have slowed vaccine uptake across the African continent. Health workers in countries such as Nigeria, Ivory Coast, and Malawi noticed growing fears and conspiracy theories, as well as slower demand for vaccines. Africans have expressed their reluctance to use the AstraZeneca shot when Europeans have stopped using it.  At the G7 Vaccine Confidence Summit hosted by the U.K. in June 2021, Dr John Nkengasong, Director of Africa CDC, highlighted that confidence in Africa was significantly hit by the suspension of the AstraZeneca vaccine in a number of European countries with some African ministries being reluctant to continue the rollout of the vaccine. 

Lessons learned and recommendations
The world has only started its vaccination effort against COVID-19 with millions of people around the globe, particularly in developing countries, still needing to get inoculated against the disease. Yet, lessons can start to be drawn from vaccination programs that started in early 2021.

  • All indications point to the fact that consistent messaging about the safety and efficacy of vaccines and about widespread acceptance, as well as smooth and effective rollouts that build social proof of the safety, efficacy, and benefits of COVID-19 vaccines have been key ingredients to build trust and increase vaccination intent and intake.
  • On the contrary, conflicting public messages and guidance as well as temporary suspensions of the use of certain jabs have created a breeding ground for doubt, fears, and conspiracy theories, not only in the country where they occurred but globally. As Heidi Larson, the founding director of the Vaccine Confidence Project at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, said: “Don’t let the ambiguity drag on. Because every day just opens the space for misinformation, disinformation, anxiety, and confusion.”

As they progress in their vaccination campaign and in advance of vaccination delivery, decision-makers should take stock of these lessons learned and quickly adjust their strategy accordingly.

Decision-makers should:

  • Increase vaccine trust through a social proofing strategy. Decision-makers should put social proofing at the heart of their vaccination rollout strategy, learning from best practices in countries that have successfully deployed this approach. Such best practices may include proactively emphasizing the growing and widespread intention/acceptance to get vaccinated of others rather than overemphasizing hesitancy levels. Another way may be, where the supply and timing of the second second for two-dose vaccines is guaranteed, delaying the administration of second doses in order to get a first dose in as many arms as possible, as quickly as possible. Experts believe this can have an important impact on attitudes towards COVID-19 vaccines as more people know someone who has been vaccinated.
  • Refrain from temporarily suspending the use of shots over unconfirmed safety concerns (unless recommended by the regulator), and instead take swift decisions to prioritize certain demographics while concerns are being investigated. Total suspension, even when temporary, increases mistrust not only in the countries where the rollout was paused, but globally. For example, the temporary suspension of the use of the AstraZeneca vaccines in a number of European countries despite the EMA’s recommendation to continue to administer the vaccine led to many African countries suspending the use of the shot and increased hesitancy globally, including on the African continent where the AstraZeneca jab is particularly crucial because it is less expensive, more stable, and easier to distribute than the mRNA-based counterparts from Moderna and Pfizer.
  • Always act on scientific advice and follow the regulator recommendation before making any statement on the safety or efficacy of COVID-19 vaccines as well as before introducing any demographic restrictions. Unfounded statements and age restrictions in some European countries early in their roll-out, i.e., limiting the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine only to young people, created confusion and a fertile ground for fear and conspiracy theories. Scientific evidence should be very carefully and regularly assessed by decision-makers and their teams before making any decision or statement on the use of COVID-19 vaccines.

_____

1 The research included focus groups among people expressing concerns about getting the vaccine in March 2021 and a message testing study in February 2021
Source: Ad Council | IPSOS National survey conducted April 12-19, 2021

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.

There Are Reasons to Be Hopeful About Beating COVID-19. But We’re Not Done Yet.

By Friederike Röder, Global Citizen & Eloise Todd, co-founder of the Pandemic Action Network

We’re one year into the pandemic but may now be entering a new, more optimistic phase — at least from a political point of view.

The new US administration is now in place, but there is momentum elsewhere too. Until recently, many leaders had been focused largely on domestic action and on short-term fixes. But there are now signs that leaders are starting to understand that airborne COVID-19 cannot be defeated within borders, and that global solutions are needed.

Last week’s informal G7 summit saw funding for the Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator (ACT-A) finally ratcheting up with important new commitments pledged.

Germany was the first G7 country to meet — and even surpass — its “fair share” contribution to the ACT-Accelerator, for which Chancellor Merkel deserves huge credit. Since the ACT-A was launched in May 2020, the financial gap has been reduced by $16 billion, including through a $4.3 billion contribution pledged during last week’s G7 summit.

The European Council on Thursday concluded that “strengthening the [World Health Organization] WHO and working towards an international treaty on pandemics” is necessary to enhance multilateral cooperation, and support for funding Europe’s fair share of COVAX — a facility designed to combat vaccine nationalism and ensure low-income countries have access to COVID-19 vaccines — was underlined.

On Friday, G20 finance ministers took a step towards new Special Drawing Rights (SDRs) — an IMF asset that could help provide crucial funding for COVID-19 response and recovery (you can read all about them here).

Kristalina Georgieva has been tasked to develop a proposal – with one more heave the G20 could make a decision in the coming weeks that could change the game for the global fight against COVID. An initial one-off issuing of these SDRs would give governments the security and fiscal space to fully fund the $22 billion that’s needed for ACT-A, but would also help low-income countries go from 20% to 60% coverage in terms of vaccination coverage, help address the many impacts of COVID-19, and invest in pandemic prevention and preparedness. The G20 have requested the IMF to work out a proposal that could help achieve this.

There are further reasons to be hopeful about the global COVID-19 response, too. For example, the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which can be kept at refrigerated temperatures, has now been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

This vaccine could be a game-changer, in particular for poorer countries that don’t necessarily have the infrastructure to be able to keep vaccines at very low temperatures. The Pfizer vaccine, for example, needs to be stored at below -60 degrees C, which isn’t possible without advanced cold supply chains.

What’s more, the European Commission is exploring how to boost local production capacities under licencing arrangements in Africa, a much needed initiative as we need to increase supply.

While all of the above is encouraging, it doesn’t yet add up to the scale of ambition needed to end this pandemic and prevent the next.

We need a comprehensive roadmap with government, private sector, and multilateral action towards achieving 60% vaccine coverage for the world, in line with the minimum coverage the WHO says is needed to break the chain of transmissions.

Such a roadmap will allow us to reverse engineer this objective and set ourselves a date for completion. It will need to provide solutions to quickly ensure equitable vaccine distribution across the world, increasing supply accordingly, and ensuring we have the means to prevent and prepare for any future pandemic.

Key pieces of such a roadmap are already out there.

French President Emmanuel Macron last week called for rich countries to donate 5% of their vaccine doses to low-income countries immediately, prioritizing health care workers.

Less than half a percent of the vaccine donations currently pre-purchased by the G7 (including the whole of the EU) would be enough to vaccinate all health care workers in Africa, and thereby make real progress in limiting the spread of the virus for all of us.

Vaccine nationalism is a serious obstacle in ending COVID-19 everywhere. Even if 100% of one country’s population receives the most effective vaccine, that will mean very little if a vaccine-resistant mutant develops anywhere else in the world.

While leaders, especially from the G7, have spoken frequently about taking global action for nearly a year now, in reality, current vaccine distribution is deeply unequal and needs urgent interventions to plug the gap in supply to low- and middle-income countries.

As President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen put it, in her foreword to Global Citizen’s white paper A Recovery Plan for the World: “A global vaccination campaign is the most effective way to drive down the virus’ capacity to evolve” and is, therefore, our only way out of the crisis. More leaders need to start accepting this reality and be courageous enough to defend it.

Such a roadmap towards global vaccination coverage also needs to include concrete steps to increase manufacturing capacity worldwide, particularly in regions, such as Africa, that currently have very little.

Building on the EU Commission’s initiative, this now requires real commitment from both governments and pharmaceutical companies to support and develop partnerships to share expertise and expand global manufacturing, with both public and private investment.

For all of this to happen, future finance needs to move faster than any virus. The setting up of ACT-A in record time is to be applauded, but in future such mechanisms need the finance on tap, ready in advance of pandemics striking for the countries that need it most.

The issuing of SDRs could not only be the financial response of scale we need to end COVID-19 and to fuel a global, sustainable recovery, but could also allow us the time needed to find the long-term financing mechanisms that will be essential in the future.

Achieving vaccine access for all, ramping up manufacturing in low- and middle-income countries, and ensuring adequate finance for pandemic prevention, preparedness, and response are all issues the G20 Global Health Summit — which will be jointly hosted by the Italian Presidency and the EU Commission in Rome in May — is well placed to tackle.

We are calling on the G20 Presidency and the European Commission to convene the world to agree on a clear road map focused on vaccine access, manufacturing, and sustainable finance to make sure we end this pandemic and prevent, and prepare for, the next.

This is the year, this is the opportunity — there is no option but to take this path.

Pandemic Action Network Statement on Outcomes of the G7 Special Summit and Munich Security Conference on the Global COVID-19 Response

Eloise Todd and Carolyn Reynolds, Co-Founders of the Pandemic Action Network, said:

The Pandemic Action Network applauds the financial pledges made today by global leaders to the Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator (ACT-A) and its COVAX facility, which together constitute a significant jump forward toward ACT-A’s US$38B funding target. Substantial contributions from the leaders of the US, Germany, and the European Commission helped make this leap, along with new contributions from Canada and Japan. We also welcome US President Joe Biden’s call for increased investments in global health security to address emerging pandemic and biosecurity threats.

This strong show of multilateralism, together with commitments already made by the United Kingdom’s leadership of the G7 Presidency and the Italian G20 Presidency to prioritize global health security in their forthcoming summits, gives us hope that 2021 could be the year in which we not only can turn the corner on COVID-19, but also lay the foundation for a world that will be better prepared for future pandemic threats.

To accelerate the end of this global crisis, we urge G7 leaders to heed the call of French President Emmanuel Macron to ensure healthcare workers and the most vulnerable people in the poorest countries can urgently access to COVID-19 vaccines, by sharing some of the vaccines ordered by the wealthiest countries without delay, as well as by closing the remaining financing gap for the ACT-Accelerator.

Yet even as the world is fighting this crisis, we must urgently prepare for the next one. That’s why we also are urging G7 and G20 leaders to join with President Biden in plans for “creating an enduring international catalytic financing mechanism for advancing and improving existing bilateral and multilateral approaches to global health security.” Speaker after speaker at the Munich Security Conference today talked about how the costs of inaction vastly outweigh the cost of acting in advance of future outbreaks to quash potential pandemic threats, yet preparedness has been ignored for far too long. Actions speak louder than words: Now is the time for the G7 and G20 to commit the policies, plans, and resources necessary to build a future that will protect both people and planet.

2021 could be a historic year for multilateral action to combat some of the gravest threats facing humanity. There is an opportunity for leaders to ensure equitable access to vaccines and to advance ambitious pandemic preparedness, climate, and biodiversity plans toward a better, safer, and healthier world. Our Network of more than 90 partners around the world stands ready to work with world leaders to seize this unprecedented opportunity. We simply cannot afford to fail.

A hopeful EU Speech, a Disappointing G20 Communique – And Opportunities Ahead

By Eloise Todd, Co-Founder Pandemic Action Network

Following the Global Preparedness Monitoring Board’s report launch on Monday, this week also saw the European Commission (EC) President Ursula von der Leyen give her first State of the Union speech to a masked up, socially distanced European Parliamentary chamber and the G20 Joint Finance & Health Ministers’ meeting published their conclusions. What happened?

First, President von der Leyen’s speech on 16 September. Here are five announcements that could help the fight for a better prepared world and an equitable COVID-19 response:

1. Get ready for a Global Health Summit in 2021 focusing on lessons learned from this crisis. It will be co-hosted by the EU and the Italian G20 Presidency. President von der Leyen said “we need to strengthen our crisis preparedness and management of cross-border health threats.” The fact that this issue will be a priority for the Italian Presidency of the G20 is another huge plus.

2.The EC also wants the WHO changed “by design – not by destruction” to help build “a strong World Health Organisation that can better prepare and respond to global pandemics or local outbreaks – be it Corona or Ebola.” The WHO needs this kind of constructive approach towards reform.

3. Stronger EU health agencies – and a brand new ‘BARDA’. The European Medicines Agency and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) will both be strengthened, and a brand new European agency will be created too – a Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Agency (BARDA) – to build Europe’s pandemic preparedness capacity and respond to cross- border threats and emergencies (from nature or terrorism).

4. No to vaccine nationalism, yes to vaccine cooperation, said the President loudly and clearly: “safe vaccines are available not only for those who can afford it – but for everyone who needs it.” The EU will have to walk the walk on this in its own vaccine dealings. The COVAX Facility was also mentioned, along with the €400mn the Commission pledged just last week – and the President surely knows that the EC will need to do more in the coming months to help close the Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator (ACT-A)’s $38bn funding gap.

5. Last but definitely not least, the President carefully raised “the question of health competences” – suggesting that during its upcoming review of the EU’s Treaty basis, the Conference on the Future of Europe examine the powers the EU has on health policy in times of crisis. If the EU leads such a reform, it could open up Europe’s ability to act as a unit across the Union and possibly multilaterally in times of crisis.

Second, on 17 September was the G20 Ministerial outcome, which by contrast majored on warm words and not in concrete commitments. We are disappointed with the outcome, and have laid out three key points that need to be converted from abstract notions to clear directives in time for the G20 Leaders’ Summit in November:

The Multilateral Development Banks (MDBs) were called upon to “swiftly consider ways to strengthen the financial support for countries’ access to COVID-19 tools.” The urgency of this support cannot be overstated; there is a $38bn funding gap in the ACT-A – $15bn of which must be found this year and the remaining secured by the end of the first quarter of 2021. Help from the MDBs is much needed – and the same kind of innovation by multilateral institutions that has helped countries deal with the impact of COVID-19 at home needs to be deployed to ensure an equitable crisis response.

Pandemic preparedness needs to shift from words to action. The communique included the Ministers “taking note” of developments, “looking forward” to the work of the Independent Panel for Pandemic Preparedness and Response (which will not release its report until next May), and many other noncommittal statements. For inspiration as to concrete policies to pursue, they should read my colleague Carolyn Reynolds (Pandemic Action Network Co-Founder) and the Center for Strategic and International Studies’s J. Stephen Morrison’s piece on what the IPPR should do on pandemic preparedness.

There is still time for the G20 to make a difference. Ministers are updating the G20 Action Plan which will be presented at the G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors’ meeting in October 2020, and then to the Leaders’ Summit itself in November. At the Pandemic Action Network we will be coordinating with our brilliant partners to ensure the Action Plan prioritizes strong and necessary measures to prevent and prepare our world for future outbreaks.

Leaders across the world need to move with urgency and speed to deliver concrete actions to make sure we end COVID-19 equitably and swiftly across the world, and take the actions needed on preparedness and prevention to make sure this can never happen again. If your organization wants to join the fight, please get in touch today. We have no time to lose.

 

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 Germany’s Leadership Can Achieve Over the Next Six Months

On July 1, Germany will take over the Presidency of the Council of the EU. The COVID-19 pandemic has forced Germany to radically revise its priorities for a ‘crisis’ presidency, but it is also an opportunity for the country to show strong leadership on the EU stage, and most importantly on the world stage. The German leadership will be central to ensure Europe’s, and the world’s, response to COVID-19 is global and equitable and invests in a resilient future to ensure this never happens again.

The programme of the 6-month German EU Presidency hasn’t been published yet, but last week Germany, Portugal and Slovenia presented their joint EU presidency programme for the next 18 months. 

The German Chancellor, French President and leaders of Spain, Poland, Belgium and Denmark already wrote to the European Commission in early June stating that they want a ‘common European approach’ to preparing for future pandemics.

This has already spurred the EU into action, with a communication on pandemic preparedness expected from the European Commission in the Autumn. We should expect a heavy emphasis on PPE supplies, stockpiling, harmonising data so the disease and policy impact can be more easily tracked and looking at where the EU system in particular failed. We will be working hard to make sure global equity is at the heart of any work Germany drives forward. 

Below are some key opportunities over the next 6 months. It will be up to the German Presidency to shepherd the following big initiatives from the EU:

  • A Global compact. 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. The world needs a global, costed plan that will provide a roadmap out of COVID-19 and other pandemic threats for good. Chancellor Angela Merkel has already expressed her commitment to pandemic preparedness. She should seize the opportunity of the EU presidency to make this a reality. Germany should use the forthcoming meetings of the G20, the Global Preparedness Monitoring Board and the 75th anniversary of the UN in September to develop a global Compact to ensure we don’t repeat the errors of the past and invest in a better, more resilient future for everyone.
  • A Resilience 7-year budget. The Council of ministers and the European Parliament are currently negotiating the EU’s next 7-year budget – the so-called the Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF). The European Commission made an ambitious new proposal in May (read our analysis here). The German presidency should seek to maximise pandemic preparedness and prevention within the MFF as well as globally. The European Commission proposed to use its strong credit rating to borrow up to €750 billion in low interest loans at long maturities on the market to finance its EU Recovery Plan. The EU should consider doing the same to invest in the Global Compact, to step up support to the poorest countries to make the necessary investments in national health security action plans and more resilient health systems.
  • A EU Vaccine Strategy for everyone, not just for Europeans. Last week the EU launched a new Vaccine Strategy (read our response here). 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. The German Presidency should urgently build on that commitment and make it a global mechanism. A norm should be set whereby high income countries reserve an additional amount of vaccines equivalent to their own populations (doubling their commitment) for people in low and middle income countries who struggle to secure enough vaccines for their own populations.
  • A stronger World Health Organization. Germany has put WHO on the agenda of its presidency and is committed to give the EU and its Member States a stronger voice in the UN agency leading on global health. Increasing EU leadership and financial support for WHO will be more important than ever in light of the unfortunate USG announcement to withdraw. The German presidency should ensure that the forthcoming review of the COVID-19 response is inclusive and leads to meaningful reforms, including increasing transparency and accountability of WHO Member States and providing reliable funding.  A stronger WHO is essential for more effective global pandemic preparedness and response.

All eyes will be on Germany as of July 1. The country has a strong opportunity to build a better future for everyone everywhere, the Pandemic Action Network looks forward to working with Chancellor Merkel and her team to make this happen. 

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.

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:

 

A Down Payment on the Future

May 05, 2020
By Eloise Todd, Co-Founder of Pandemic Action Network

A Down Payment on the Future

The impressive 4 May online pledging conference organised by the European Union had two clear goals: first, to show global solidarity and cooperation against the backdrop of a world fragmented by politics, inequality and a fractured response to COVID-19; and second, to raise US$8bn for the development of diagnostics, therapeutics, and vaccines to accelerate the end of the pandemic.

On the first objective, the event was a resounding success: the resolve to work together was deep and global – albeit with the notable absence of the United States. Although participants skewed European, leaders from Australia, Canada, China, Israel, Japan, Kuwait, Oman, South Africa and the UAE were among those who joined to make this a global moment, and their unity of purpose was palpable. One after the other, leaders spoke with passion about the need to leave no one behind and to make sure a COVID-19 vaccine is a global public good, no matter where it’s produced. The across-the-board commitment to the speedy and equitable distribution of a new vaccine rang loud and clear. The private sector and Foundations were present and pledging too, and global health institutions also took the floor. The words of Richard Hatchett from CEPI were simple, honest and moving: “the work will not be easy, it will not be cheap, and we cannot be certain of our success; but by combining our skills, expertise and resources, we will find a way to defeat this disease.”

On the fundraising objective, was the event successful? Maybe. But for us as advocates, our hard work has already started – we’re digging into the numbers to ascertain which of those funds were genuinely new, and which fall inside of the parameters of the US$8bn target. This accountability work is vital: unless we set a clear baseline for what was announced, we will not be able to either understand where the remaining gaps are, or be able to set much needed (and more ambitious) goals for the future, nor will we be able to properly track and assess the impact of those investments. Transparency and accountability must be embedded in development aid, particularly in times of crisis. During the Ebola epidemic in 2014, many donors simply rebadged money that was already earmarked for Ebola-struck countries, and disbursements were difficult to track. Redeployment of funds can sometimes be a sensible policy decision – but it can also mean existing development programmes being starved of resources with serious knock-on effects for the most vulnerable populations.

While fully funding the R&D agenda is critical to defeating COVID-19, we also know that what was raised yesterday – even if we really did hit US$8bn – is only a fraction of what will be needed for a truly global response and recovery – even more will be needed on vaccine development, manufacturing and distribution alone. Furthermore, it’s vital that the world keeps its collective eye both on the short- and longer-term needs. A key goal of our new Pandemic Action Network is to ensure that the world makes the necessary investments not only to stop this pandemic, but also to help prevent the next one. That’s why we are calling on all donors to make sure the 4 May is seen as just the downpayment and beginning of a truly global process, and not a one-off moment that fizzles out. The rhetoric of many leaders and the promise of future pledging moments were promising, but as always, data and actions will speak the loudest.

We salute the European Commission for its leadership and all of the leaders who stepped up and pledged their support at this critical moment. President von der Leyen hinted there might be a next time, and that she would engage more partners. With our growing list of partners, the Pandemic Action Network is ready to accept that challenge. We urge a two-pronged approach: let’s get full transparency around the full tally of what’s been raised so far and embed those principles for the longer term, and let’s make sure that future pledges help close the global gaps in the overall COVID-19 response and make sure that every country is better prepared to prevent future pandemics. It’s time for us to reimagine the scale of the approach we need to take to protect the world from future crises – and we stand ready to work with partners to help establish, and achieve, that goal. A downpayment on our future has been made. Now we need the #UnitedAgainstCoronavirus coalition to dig even deeper commensurate with this current – and future – global challenge.

www.pandemicactionnetwork.org @PandemicAction