Shifting the G7’s Record on Pandemics

Something has to change when it comes to global leaders’ response to pandemics. The concern used to be that panic-induced action at the outset of a pandemic turns quickly to neglect once the emergency is over. But COVID-19 brought a new additional concern: the cycle switched to “neglect” while still battling the crisis phase of the pandemic. 

The G7’s own record on pandemics shows the same pattern of panic and neglect. In 2015 — also under the German Presidency — the Ebola epidemic in West Africa brought a long list of commitments that echoes what should have been done to prevent the current crisis: assisting countries in implementing the International Health Regulations, making financing for response and preparedness immediately available, improving WHO’s capabilities, and setting up surveillance networks. Yet, these commitments failed to translate into tangible and sustained action. The devastating experience of the COVID-19 pandemic leaves no doubt that world leaders must break out of this “same strategy but different day” cycle of rearranging recommendations and commitments. At the forthcoming G7 Leaders’ Summit in Schloss Elmau, G7 leaders can either continue with the same approach to pandemics or kickstart a new one that makes falling into neglect simply impossible. What does this mean in practical terms? 

Put pandemic prevention, preparedness, and response in the diary. First and foremost, checking up on progress made on pandemic preparedness and response must be a regular fixture in global leaders’ calendars. Just as transnational threats like climate have led to the creation of the annual COP process to catalyze reduction of carbon emissions, pandemics need methodical political attention — and crucially, action — at the highest level. We need “ever-warm” response and accountability in the same way the COVID-19 pandemic proved the need for ever-warm manufacturing capabilities. 

Make pandemic prevention and preparedness a top political priority. Beyond regular meetings, an adequate response to pandemics needs a political engine with processes that assess risks and review progress systematically. The Independent Panel’s May 2022 report calls for “an inclusive leader-level health threats council that can galvanize political commitment to end the COVID-19 threat” — and we agree. The G7 should put its collective heft behind a critically-needed, broader, and inclusive, Global Health Threats Council of leaders to both convene in a crisis and create the momentum to catalyze the implementation of pandemic prevention and preparedness plans, based on new learnings from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Act with urgency at this year’s UN General Assembly. In line with setting such a political engine, we also need to turn it on as soon as possible. We need the world to be in a dynamic state of readiness, not caught unprepared as it was in 2020. A UN Summit on pandemic preparedness and response in the coming months in New York at the leadership level should be at the top of António Guterres’ to-do list. Such a leadership summit would set a standard and help breathe life into plans to regularly convene on pandemic preparedness and response at the leadership level. 

The very fact that many of the recommendations that came out of the Ebola outbreak are now being actioned or overtaken, shows just how little was done to properly implement the learnings from Ebola in 2015. While we are seeing progress on pandemic preparedness, that progress remains fragile amidst competing crises and inconsistent levels of ambition and commitment from all countries and their leaders. The establishment of the Pandemic Prevention, Preparedness, and Response Fund at the World Bank — bolstered by the financial commitments of the U.S., EU, Germany, Indonesia, and Wellcome  — will be instrumental but needs more countries to chip in and demand their seat at the table so that everyone contributes, everyone benefits, and everyone decides. Getting broad buy-in to a Fund that pulls away from the typical donor-led cliché will help set this G7 on the path to success, not obscurity. G7 leaders should affirm their commitment to an inclusive approach to the Fund’s governance, and G7 countries that have not yet pledged should use the opportunity of the Summit to do so.

In brief, Germany’s Chancellor and their G7 counterparts need to make sure pandemics are not only high on the agenda on June 26-28, but more importantly, that there is a new political engine — that goes beyond the G7 — to enable the world to banish the cycle of neglect to history. Acknowledging the elusive and unpredictable nature of pandemics, this would set us on track to effectively deal with present uncertainties, future unknowns, and provide the political forum for cooperation that was so desperately needed when nationalism and parochial interests saw countries pull up their drawbridge right at the moment they should have been opening up to coordination and collaboration early in the COVID-19 pandemic. This is a shift worth making, and one that would stand the test of time at the next German G7 Presidency in 2029.

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

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

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

Read the full letter here.

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

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

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

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

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

Civil Society Organizations Call on G20 Leaders and Ministers to Deliver Concrete Action on Global COVID-19 Targets

Ahead of the G20 Finance and Health Ministers Meeting on Oct. 29 and the G20 Leaders’ Summit on Oct. 30-31, Pandemic Action Network and more than 20 civil society partners call upon the G20 countries to deliver specific, concrete action on key targets set out at the Global COVID-19 Summit on Sept. 22. The Global COVID-19 Summit rallied world leaders and secured commitments to ensure at least 70% of the population in all income categories in all countries are fully vaccinated by mid 2022 — and at least 40% by the end of this year.

But meeting this target will require specific, concrete action. Civil society organizations urge the G20 leaders and Ministers to agree on a plan of action in the forthcoming meetings to deliver on these targets, including commitments to:

  1. Ensure at least 70% of people in every income category in every country are fully vaccinated by sharing doses at scale, releasing production slots, and supporting non-exclusive knowledge and technology sharing measures;
  2. Increase multi-year financing for the pandemic response and preparedness in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) to match the scale of need;
  3. Reallocate Special Drawing Rights to support the fight against the pandemic in LMICs;
  4. Strengthen global leadership and accountability.

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.

If your organization would like to endorse the letter, please contact Aminata Wurie by Tuesday, Oct. 26. 

A 100-Day Proposal for Reviewing, Designing and Launching the Establishment of a Financial Intermediary Fund for Global Health Security and Pandemic Preparedness

This is a non-paper intended to transparently share information and steps toward establishing a Financial Intermediary Fund (FIF) for Global Health Security and Pandemic Preparedness. It was developed through a consultative process and does not represent official positions of the governments involved. Rather, it is intended to provide an action plan to begin taking the steps toward launching the establishment of a Financial Intermediary Fund in 2021, including as outlined in expert reports and as recently called for by some leaders during the September 22, 2021 Global COVID-19 Summit. To bolster additional discussion, this document was prepared by the United States and Norway in consultation with an initial group (dubbed “Action Team”) comprised of interested countries, regional organizations, non-governmental organizations, and expert stakeholders.

COVID-19 has underscored the need for urgent collective action to prevent, detect, and rapidly respond to pandemics. There is unequivocal consensus that mobilizing additional, predictable, and sustainable financing is critical for more effective and equitable pandemic preparedness and response and to achieve global health security.

This document outlines a time-bound plan for reviewing, designing, and establishing a new multilateral Financial Intermediary Fund for Global Health Security and Pandemic Preparedness, with the World Bank as trustee. Read the draft non-paper for consultation here.

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

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

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

Pandemic Action Network co-founder Eloise Todd said:

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

Pandemic Action co-founder Carolyn Reynolds said:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

About Pandemic Action Network

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

About Paris Peace Forum

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

About COVID Collaborative

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

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

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

Do Whatever It Takes! Making the COVID-19 Summit a Step Change in Global Response

Pandemic Action Network is relentlessly focused on ending the COVID-19 crisis everywhere and preventing the next pandemic. We work with our global network of more than 140 partners to push governments to bridge the divide between rhetoric or piecemeal efforts and meaningful actions. When we first learned about the prospect of a global COVID-19 Response Summit — something we have been calling for over the past 18 months — we set out to define the step change in ambition that leaders would need to take after the devastatingly inadequate action taken to tackle this pandemic crisis to date.

That’s why in advance of this Summit, we worked with our partners at the COVID Collaborative and across multiple centers at Duke University to bring more than 60 organizations together around a common position on what’s needed to end this crisis. We’re pleased to see much of what we have been calling for reflected in the Summit targets, which we support. But this Summit has to set itself apart by being the starting point in a much longer journey.

It’s beyond time for an action plan, leadership, and accountability. The world is divided between the haves and the have nots like never before. Those with access to COVID-19 vaccines, and those with no access in sight. We have to change this, and at the 22 September COVID-19 Summit, leaders must pledge to do whatever it takes to fully vaccinate 70% of the population in every country in less than 12 months. We will be tracking their progress towards that commitment and the interim target of at least 40% by the end of 2021.

To get there, we must dramatically ramp up support NOW for:

  • Vaccine donations, queue swaps, manufacturing, and delivery
  • Development and deployment of testing and treatments — including oxygen — and PPE
  • A strong frontline health workforce to reach the most vulnerable communities

We make our own commitment to deliver. We will continue to help mobilize the political support and resources necessary to deliver the targets, and track progress of countries towards their goals. We will also push the private sector and philanthropic donors to play their part in delivering the funding — and the policies — to achieve global vaccination and delivery of COVID-19 tools. We will convene and tap the deep expertise and capabilities in our Network across sectors to inform their design and ensure they are inclusive, accountable, sustainably funded, and commensurate with the threat.

It’s time to shine a light on the problems in the system, and fix them, before they take more lives. We are in a race against time. The world has the resources and the ingenuity to solve these challenges.

It’s a matter of leadership and political will. We will be working to ensure that this Summit leaves a legacy to end this crisis and pandemic-proof the world once and for all.

Read and share the full Framework for a Global Action Plan for COVID-19 Response endorsed by more than 60 partners here.

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.

Framework for a Global Action Plan for COVID-19 Response

We are at an exceedingly perilous and urgent moment in the COVID-19 pandemic. As the Delta variant has demonstrated, we are fighting a virus that doesn’t respect borders and rapidly advances across continents. If the virus continues to circulate unchecked in large parts of the world, we will see not only many more millions of infections and deaths, but also new variants that could totally pierce vaccine immunity, returning the world to square one. The global COVID-19 crisis demands leadership and a global plan of attack. A coordinated, global response, the only possible successful response to the pandemic, must be grounded in equity at all levels – global, regional, national, subnational and community. An “all hands on deck” crisis response must deploy all available resources and capabilities – multilateral and bilateral, public and private sector. A robust and effective response to the current crisis is also the best foundation for health systems strengthening and future pandemic preparedness. World leaders should therefore urgently convene a “Global Pandemic Response and Vaccination Summit” and commit to urgent actions detailed in our Framework For a Global Action Plan for COVID-19 Response. Read more here.

An “all hands on deck” crisis response must deploy all available resources and capabilities – multilateral and bilateral, public and private sector. A robust and effective response to the current crisis is also the best foundation for health systems.

Calling for a New Multilateral Financing Mechanism for Global Health Security and Pandemic Preparedness

People and countries around the world continue to suffer from the devastating human, economic, and social costs of being unprepared for a deadly pandemic like COVID-19. This crisis is a call-to-action. World leaders must seize this opportunity to leave a legacy of a healthier and safer world — starting with a new global financing mechanism that provides robust and sustained investments in pandemic prevention and preparedness. At the 2021 United Nations General Assembly, world leaders should launch a 100-day action plan to establish and resource a new financing mechanism, or Fund, that can mobilize at least US$10 billion annually over the next five years to bolster global health security and pandemic preparedness. History has shown time and again that if action is not taken during a crisis, then political will dissipates once the crisis fades from view. An expedited timeline for establishing the Fund will provide a critical new tool for the ongoing COVID-19 response efforts and create continuity between the pandemic response and recovery activities while bridging to escalated and sustained efforts on pandemic preparedness.  This policy brief, prepared by contributors from the Center for Global Development, Pandemic Action Network, and Nuclear Threat Initiative, is intended to inform and guide ongoing conversations among governments and non-governmental stakeholders on the parameters and design of the new Fund and action plan. Read the policy brief here.
This policy brief, prepared by contributors from the Center for Global Development, Pandemic Action Network, and Nuclear Threat Initiative, is intended to inform and guide ongoing conversations among governments and non-governmental stakeholders on the parameters and design of the new Fund and action plan.

UN General Assembly Called Upon to Lead Global Pandemic Prevention and Preparedness

Civil society leaders urge UN General Assembly President Volkan Bozkir to use the informal plenary on July 28 to formally start the process for a UN High-Level Summit on Global Health Security and Pandemic Prevention and Preparedness during the 76th session of the General Assembly.

Your Excellency,  

On behalf of the Pandemic Action Network and our partners around the world, we welcome the announcement of an informal plenary of the General Assembly on 28 July to discuss what the world needs to do to prevent and prepare for future pandemics, informed by the findings and recommendations of the Independent Panel for Pandemic Preparedness and Response (IPPPR) and other review efforts. The devastating health, economic, and social impacts of this deadly, costly, and protracted global crisis underscore that it is well past time for the community of nations to prioritize and prepare for pandemics as the existential, catastrophic, and growing global security  threats they are. We urge you to ensure that the outcome of this plenary is a commitment to a concrete, time-bound political process for international action on pandemic prevention and preparedness. 

Specifically, we urge you to use the 28 July 2021 informal meeting to kick off a formal process and set a date during the 76th session of the General Assembly — ideally within the first six months or no later than September 2022 — for a UN High-Level Summit on Global Health Security and Pandemic Prevention and Preparedness at the Heads of State or Government level. The Summit should agree to a Political Declaration or similar, which outlines a set of concrete solutions, backed by the requisite financing, institutional, and policy reforms, and member state commitments, that will ensure an international system better prepared to detect, prevent, and respond to pandemic threats. Given the whole of society nature of  pandemics, it will be essential that the Summit fully and actively engage leaders of multilateral institutions, civil society organizations, private sector, foundations, academic, and research institutions alongside government leaders. 

The proposals from the IPPPR, the G20 High-Level Independent Panel on Financing the Global Commons for Pandemic Preparedness and Response (G20), the Global Preparedness Monitoring Board (GPMB), our Network, and others have been based on robust evidence, deep consultation, thorough analysis, and active debate before and during the COVID-19 pandemic. There is a striking convergence of recommendations around the global financing, governance, and accountability reforms that are urgently needed; what has been sorely lacking is political will to act.  

While accelerating the global COVID-19 response remains the most urgent priority, we cannot afford to wait until this pandemic is over to begin to bolster our collective defenses against emerging pandemic threats. Now is the time to lay the foundation for a resilient international system that can act quickly and equitably to prevent a health emergency of this scale from occurring in the future. Too often, political will for system change recedes as a crisis wanes. World leaders must seize this opportunity to commit to pandemic-proof the future and leave a legacy of a healthier and safer world. 

Pandemic Action Network and our partners stand ready to work with you to support this process. Thank you for your urgent attention to this matter, and we look forward to your reply.  

Sincerely, 

Carolyn Reynolds 
Co-founder
Pandemic Action Network  

On behalf of:

 

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

World Leaders: It is Time for New Global Funding to Keep the World Safer from Pandemics

By Amanda Glassman, Executive Vice President of Center for Global Development, CEO of CGD Europe, and Senior Fellow, and Carolyn Reynolds, Co-Founder, Pandemic Action Network

This past weekend, the High-Level Independent Panel on Financing the Global Commons for Pandemic Preparedness and Response delivered a stark warning in its report to the G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors meeting in Venice: With the near certainty of an even more deadly and costly pandemic than COVID-19 occurring within the next decade, the clock is ticking to ramp up investments in international preparedness. A central feature of the Panel’s recommendations: Create a Global Health Threats Fund that can provide at least US$10 billion annually to international institutions and to low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) governments, among others, to bolster the world’s capacity to prevent, detect, and rapidly respond to pandemics.

The investment case for pandemic preparedness could hardly be more compelling. At an unfathomable loss of more than 4 million lives and nearly US$20 trillion and counting, the human and economic costs of COVID-19 will be felt for a generation. And as the Panel concludes in its report, the next pandemic could be much, much worse.

In their communiqué, the G20 finance leaders “welcomed” the Panel’s report and agreed to form a task force to discuss the proposals and report out to G20 heads of state at their summit in October. Last month, G7 leaders also said they would “explore options for building consensus” around sustainable global health and health security financing.

______________

It is time to move beyond the talk and commit to an action plan
to establish and robustly finance a new Fund by the end of the year.
______________

Our message to all these leaders: It is time to move beyond the talk and commit to an action plan to establish and robustly finance a new Fund by the end of the year. This will provide a powerful engine to help LMICs and partner agencies at regional and international levels put an end to the current pandemic and lay the foundation to prepare, if not prevent, the next one.

There has been plenty of talk already. The Panel’s call for a new Fund emerged from hundreds of hours of discussions with governments and non-governmental organizations and from dozens of expert reports and analyses on what the world needs to do to be better prepared for pandemic threats, including many written well before COVID-19. It builds on the call in May by another independent panel to create an International Pandemic Financing Facility, which in turn builds on the March 2020 proposal by the Center for Global Development, the Center for Strategic and International Studies, Georgetown University and the Nuclear Threat Initiative for a Global Health Security Challenge Fund that has been championed by a wide array of partners through the Pandemic Action Network. The Global Preparedness Monitoring Board has repeatedly stressed the need for sustainable preparedness financing and the U.S. Congress has also weighed in.

We know what needs to be done. COVID-19 has shown us that pandemics are complex and sometimes unpredictable health, humanitarian, economic, and national security crises that require a multi-sectoral, whole-of-government, and global response. But we can contain or even prevent potential pandemics at their source — and thus dramatically reduce their human and economic costs — with investments in three priority global public goods where there are acute health security gaps.

  • First, we must build a strong and reliable domestic and international surveillance and data networks for early detection of emerging pathogens with pandemic potential, including zoonotic spillovers. 

 

  • Second, we should ensure that every country, regardless of income, has achieved a minimum level of pandemic readiness, including a trained frontline health workforce and infrastructure capable of effective infection prevention and control and stress-tested systems that can stop outbreaks from spreading. 

 

  • Third, we must accelerate the development, ever-ready manufacturing, global delivery, and universal access of medical countermeasures and supplies like vaccines, diagnostics, therapeutics, personal protective equipment, oxygen, and other lifesaving tools to ensure rapid responses to preclude severe shortages anywhere and avoid prolonging a pandemic everywhere. 

 

Predictable, long-term financing for the World Health Organization (WHO) is essential to help bring these three priorities together.

The need for additional financing for preparedness is most acute in the poorest countries with the weakest health systems, which have been further battered by COVID-19. Many of these countries are now experiencing a deadly third wave of this pandemic as thus far they have only been able to secure and deliver enough vaccines to cover a tiny percentage of their populations, and their medium-term economic and health financing outlook is poor. Catalytic external financing thus becomes even more important, as most of these governments will continue to have limited fiscal space for the foreseeable future and few incentives to prioritize domestic investments in pandemic preparedness over other pressing development needs. Even middle-income countries face high opportunity costs in the use of very scarce public resources and systematically underinvest in preparedness. And one country’s outbreak, if not controlled, can quickly become everyone’s pandemic.

To address these challenges, the Fund should be structured to meet five imperatives:

  • Additional, sustainable funding for prevention and preparedness. The Fund’s primary purpose must be to address the long-neglected global “crisis of preparedness” and create a robust multilateral source of financing to help LMICs and regional and global systems rapidly strengthen their frontline capacity to detect, prevent, and respond to emerging pandemic threats. This isn’t meant to be a global fund for all things health; it’s a global fund for health security to address a strategic gap in the global health architecture to prevent and prepare for emerging pandemic threats. Recent estimates of the annual costs of global preparedness from Georgetown University, McKinsey, and WHO (each using different parameters) range from US$5 billion to about US$25 billion over the next five years. Weighing the evidence, the G20 Panel thus determined that a minimum of US$10 billion in annual financing should be channeled through the new Fund, and that this must be additional to existing investments in other global health priorities. Like traditional military readiness, pandemic preparedness also requires sustained investment over time against both known and unknown threats.

 

  • Country prioritization and ownership. One of the Fund’s top priorities should be to support LMICs to develop and implement National Health Security Action Plans to meet international surveillance and preparedness standards. Funding should incentivize countries to commit a growing share of their domestic budgets for preparedness by linking new grant financing to increased domestic resources as countries’ economies and fiscal space grows (hence our original “challenge fund” concept). As a benchmark, the Panel found that LMICs will need to increase their domestic budgets for health by at least one percent of GDP on average over the next five years. The Fund should aim to leverage as much on-budget financing for surveillance, preparedness, and response as possible, enabling country government oversight and accountability structures to function.

 

  • Global burden sharing for a global public good. Pandemic preparedness is a global public good, so every country should contribute its fair share to help build a better prepared global system based on their ability to pay. Because pandemics pose a threat not only to health but also to economic and national security, governments should tap into other budgets beyond simply overseas development assistance. Following the September 11, 2001 attacks, the U.S. government enacted a special security fee for airline tickets which generated US$4 billion in 2017 alone. We need similar out-of-the-ordinary resource mobilization solutions to bolster pandemic readiness. It’s not only the public sector that should bear the cost, as every sector of society stands to benefit from a reduction in pandemic risk. The Fund should incorporate a financing model that can also mobilize philanthropy and leverage private capital (the latter for manufacturing efforts, for example). Amazon founder Jeff Bezos recently pledged US$10 billion to set up an Earth Fund to address climate challenges. Where is the corresponding pledge to tackle the global threat of pandemics (from which Amazon and many other technology firms have reaped record financial gains)?

 

  • Financing for results. The Fund should work or merge with existing international initiatives such as the Global Health Security Agenda and create incentives for country government progress towards minimum preparedness thresholds, building on empirical data and drawing from the strengthened surveillance systems that the Fund will support. These thresholds should be based on widely agreed measurement indicators and frameworks including the WHO’s Monitoring and Evaluation Framework (to include Joint External Evaluations, States Parties Annual Report information, and other data) combined with other external measures such as the Global Health Security Index. While none of these measures were adequate when it came to predicting countries’ capacity to effectively contain COVID-19, the perfect shouldn’t be the enemy of the good, and work is already underway to look at how these measures can be strengthened in the wake of COVID-19. In general, it will be important to shift from process indicators of preparedness (such as a committee or a protocol) to performance indicators (such as the proposed 7-1-7 goal or the proposal for measures of completeness, accuracy, timeliness, and openness of mortality and disease surveillance data). In those fragile and conflict-affected states where the government cannot operate effectively, the Fund should enable international agencies and local non-governmental organizations to conduct surveillance and report on results.Another key element will be to make the Fund more than just a Fund: it should become a global hub for catalytic financing, technical assistance, and best practices that will spur the domestic planning and managerial capacities, surveillance quality, and accountability necessary to drive a “global race to the top” that will elevate and sustain political support for pandemic prevention and preparedness.

 

  • Transparent and accountable governance: Given the proposed Fund’s magnitude of US$10 billion annually and the need for pooled funding for the global public good of prevention and preparedness, its governance should be overseen by a board which will determine priorities and gaps for financing in consultation with the WHO and other international agencies and have the flexibility to re-allocate if needed to respond to novel pathogens and specific circumstances. The Fund should also operate under a strong transparency and accountability framework and be informed by the knowledge and perspectives of civil society and community-based organizations and the private sector, who are vital partners in effective pandemic preparedness and response.

 

The Panel’s proposal structures the new Fund as a Financial Intermediary Fund (FIF). FIF arrangements can vary. In the lightest touch version of a FIF, the World Bank only performs the treasury functions and acts as trustee, similar to the role it plays for international funding entities like the Global Fund for AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, the Green Climate Fund, and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), to name a few. Entities like the Global Environment Facility, the Global Partnership for Education, and the Climate Investment Funds are also FIFs with separate boards and procedures, but their Secretariats are hosted at World Bank headquarters and can leverage the Bank’s balance sheet and utilize its human resource and procurement processes. And other FIFs are more closely linked to the Bank’s operations and management structure, such as the Global Agricultural and Food Security Program (which sits in the Bank’s Agriculture global practice).

Of these options, the Panel proposed the creation of a new FIF modeled on the arrangements of the Global Environment Facility (GEF). The Panel reasoned that the scale of the resources required, the need for a single pool of funding that could allocate funds across governments, international agencies, and other entities, the need to work across sectors to achieve One Health goals, and the benefits of linking to World Bank, IFC or other MDB lending justified this choice. A new pandemic preparedness fund modeled on GEF would also represent a parallel to how the Bank and its member countries deal with climate change, another global public goods challenge. While there will be some transaction costs to set up the new Fund, the Panel concluded that retrofitting existing funding mechanisms would be an even more difficult and lengthy process than building an entity fit-for-purpose for pandemic preparedness. That said, financing should be deployed through existing institutions to the extent possible, and there are fund design and use options that can build into existing global and regional structures to minimize additional bureaucracy or novel procedures that would burden partners.

Some argue that mobilizing new investments for pandemic preparedness risks diverting or leaving underfunded the fight against COVID-19 or other existing infectious disease threats. This must not — and need not — happen. The world has more than enough resources to tackle these challenges simultaneously; it is a question of political will and leadership. We believe setting up a new Fund can be a triple win: For example, enhanced investments in disease surveillance and mortality registration, supply chains and delivery systems should help accelerate the COVID-19 response, deliver better results for HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria, polio, and other diseases, and get the world ready for the next deadly pathogen with pandemic potential.

COVID-19 is far from over around the world, and urgently requires a much more muscular global response with than we have seen to date. We must redouble efforts on an array of global health goals, where progress has been seriously disrupted by this pandemic. But the growing frequency of pandemics also means the world cannot afford to wait to mount the next major initiative to confront an existential crisis: the crisis of pandemic preparedness. We must be able to walk and chew gum at the same time. So it is time for world leaders to stop discussing and start acting. Set up the Fund now. Let’s end this pandemic and help prevent the next one.


Amanda Glassman is Executive Vice President of the Center for Global Development and CEO of CGD Europe, and she was co-lead of the project team for the High-Level Independent Panel on Financing the Global Commons for Pandemic Preparedness and Response. Carolyn Reynolds is co-founder of the Pandemic Action Network, a senior associate at the CSIS Global Health Policy Center and an adviser to the CGD project team. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Panel.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dear Kristalina Georgieva,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Your sincerely,

Eloise Todd
Co-founder
Pandemic Action Network

On behalf of:


PATH

 

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

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

Dear G20 Finance Ministers,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Your sincerely,


PATH
 
 

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

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

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

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

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

 

Transparency Guidelines for the Global Roadmap to Vaccinate the World

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Call-to-Action: Global Roadmap To Vaccinate The World

There is currently no plan to get to global herd immunity, needlessly leaving the world vulnerable to case resurgence and the proliferation of variants. We are calling on leaders to agree to a Global Vaccine Roadmap to achieve global herd immunity as soon as possible (at least 70%, more if the evolving science points to the need for further coverage). This Roadmap should:

  1. Set out a comprehensive, coordinated strategy to get to global herd immunity as soon as possible.
  2. Increase and improve the global supply of all COVID tools through investment, policies, and the redistribution of excess doses.
  3. Fully cost the response, agree to a burden-sharing model, and begin to plug the gap by fully funding the Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator (ACT-A).

Most existing funds are mainly focused on procurement, yet multiple analyses show that it will take hundreds of billions of dollars on top of procurement financing to fully deliver a global response. If successful, ACT-A, for example, will provide vaccines for 27% of low- and middle-income (LMIC) populations in 2021 on current financing levels — but ACT-A finance does not cover rollout costs from “tarmac to arm” of its own vaccines. The situation in India also underscores the importance of oxygen and other tools that are needed before herd immunity is reached. We need a fully-funded, holistic response. We are therefore calling on leaders to:

Set out a comprehensive, coordinated strategy, as has been called for by the IMF, World Bank, WHO, and WTO, to get to global herd immunity as soon as possible, which:

  • Gives countries the support they need so that all efforts to deliver the global response are mapped, efforts are mutually-reinforced, duplication can be avoided and critical gaps can be identified and filled.
  • Delivers a comprehensive costing and analysis covering all elements of a global response to establish what is already covered and identify gaps in supply, procurement, and resources needed in-country for the delivery of vaccines, tests, and treatments.

Increase and improve the global supply of all COVID-19 tools through investment, policies and the redistribution of excess doses.

  • Scale up the production of tests, treatments, and health commodities, including oxygen, and accelerate LMIC-led research and development (R&D) through fully-funded diagnostics and therapeutics pillars.
  • Increase vaccine manufacturing through investments in regional capacity and back policies to increase knowledge sharing, remove trade-related barriers, and create tech transfer hubs.
  • Ensure vaccines are offered at an affordable price and on a not-for-profit basis.
  • Prioritize dose-sharing. G7 leaders should pledge 2 billion doses at the Leaders’ Summit, delivering 1 billion by the end of August and the second billion by the end of 2021 and as part of this delivery, ensure that 250 million additional people in low-income countries (LICs) and LMICs have actually received their doses by the end of August in parallel with national vaccine rollout plans.

Fully cost the response, agree to a burden sharing model, and begin to plug the gap by fully funding the ACT-A.

  • Agree to a burden-sharing model to set out fair share contributions and fully funding ACT-A.
  • Leverage funding opportunities by identifying new funding streams to protect official development assistance (ODA).
  • Fully fund global vaccination to reach 70% coverage, requiring at least US$50B according to IMF estimates, with more in grants needed to enable LMICs to cover the full costs of delivery.
  • Work with countries to urgently cost all delivery needs outside of ACT-A’s mandate so vaccines and other tools can be distributed and administered, including the costs of frontline and community health workers.

Three key deliverables for the G7: leadership, supply, and finance 

G7 leaders must:

1. Develop a Global Roadmap to Vaccinate the World: 

  • Develop a comprehensive, coordinated strategy that plugs gaps and shines a light on the blind spots of current efforts, including delivery of tools to low-resource settings.
  • This Global Roadmap should be kicked off at the G7 Summit and delivered with full costings and logistical, human, and financial resource needs by the end of June at the latest, when other costings will also be available to inform the roadmap.
  • There are growing calls for leaders to step up and set out the plan that is designed to bring the acute phase of the pandemic to an end and vaccinate the world. As well as the proposal from the IMF, World Bank, WHO, and WTO, the Spanish Government has set out a ‘Vaccines for All’ plan, more voices in the U.S. are calling on the Biden Administration to show leadership, and in the vacuum left by the lack of a truly global response, other organizations are stepping up to offer policy prescriptions for a global plan. The report of the Independent Panel on Pandemic Preparedness and Response also recognized the lack of global coordination and political leadership during this pandemic and called for a Global Health Threats Council to be formed.
  • The G7 must not delay in corralling leaders to deliver a Global Roadmap. The UK Presidency is well placed to work hand in glove with the G20 to deliver a comprehensive roadmap that plans to vaccinate at least 70% of people in the world and provides the support needed for every country to get the vaccine delivered and administered safely to 70% of each country’s population.


2. Increase the supply of vaccines available globally by: 

  • Prioritizing dose-sharing. The G7 should pledge 2 billion doses at the Leaders’ Summit, delivering 1 billion by the end of August and the second billion by the end of 2021 and as part of this delivery, ensure at least 250 million additional people in LICs and LMICs have actually received their doses by the end of August. Without dose-sharing, G7 countries would have enough supply to vaccinate to share over 3 billion excess doses even after vaccinating 70% of their own populations.
  • Scaling global capacity to produce COVID-19 vaccines by the end of 2021 through investments in regional capacity, backing policies to increase knowledge sharing, removing trade-related barriers, and creating tech transfer hubs.
  • Buying vaccine supply for COVAX and other mechanisms to help reach 70% coverage.


3. Fully finance the global response to COVID-19 by: 

  • Fully funding global vaccination to reach 70% coverage, requiring at least US$50B according to IMF estimates, with more in grants needed to enable LMICs to cover the full costs of delivery, on the basis of a clear burden-sharing agreement, which will:
    1. Fill the immediate ACT-A funding gap of US$19B.
    2. Commit in principle to fund the global roadmap to get to 70% global coverage on the basis of a clear burden-sharing agreement, finding new resources and protecting existing ODA.
    3. Leverage multilateral development banks (MDBs) to help finance the global roadmap.
  • Ensuring the costs needed to administer vaccines — including to health systems and health workers, including frontline and community health workers — are also met, so that vaccines are not just available but also administered, as part of a fully-costed global plan to reach global herd immunity.
  • Costing and then mobilizing the additional finance needed to deliver this plan to vaccinate the world, using all possible finance tools to raise the amounts necessary, including, but not limited to, SDRs, funds from MDBs, and new sources of funding, including innovative mechanisms and providing finance beyond government funding.

 

                           PATH                 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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“Everything that has been accomplished by this commission is really a prelude. It’s the overture to the opera that we have not yet heard. We don’t really know yet how well these tasks will be taken up and these recommendations acted upon … It’s been shown over time that it’s not enough to lay out what the world should do. It’s going to require continued promotion, advocacy, and monitoring.”
Harvey Fineberg, President, Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation
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In April, Pandemic Action Network’s 100+ partners developed our 2021 Action Agenda to urge world leaders to take action to bolster the global COVID-19 response, hasten an end to this global crisis, and lay the groundwork for a more pandemic-proof world. Last week, we gathered global experts for an examination of the Independent Panel’s findings (view here, passcode: &DuB+G9^) and the verdict was clear: We must lay out the path and the timeline and take immediate action to carry these recommendations forward. Now, on the heels of the Independent Panel’s Report, we call on world leaders to take the following actions within the next 100 days to help end this pandemic and prevent the next.

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

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

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

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

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

2. Build and commit the resources to launch a new and enduring multilateral financing mechanism for pandemic preparedness.  

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

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

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We must, we absolutely must use this window to focus on tangible actions this year. To build the tools for the future we need, for financing, surge capacity, manufacturing triggers, for oversight. We don’t want to miss this opportunity.”
Beth Cameron, Senior Director for Global Health Security and Biodefense, National Security Council, White House
________________________


3. Elevate pandemic preparedness and response to the highest levels of political leadership, including adopting a global implementation plan and establishing a high-level oversight body with the mandate to prepare for and respond to pandemic threats.

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

The First 100 Days of the Biden Presidency: A Pandemic Progress Report

Carolyn Reynolds, Co-founder & Courtney Carson, Senior Program Officer, Pandemic Action Network

The COVID-19 pandemic has overshadowed almost every aspect of President Biden’s first 100 days in office. During the transition, the Pandemic Action Network and leading global health experts called on then-President-elect Biden to take bold steps and work with Congress and with world leaders to end the pandemic as soon as possible and ensure we are better prepared for the next one.

So how has the Biden-Harris Administration done so far, and what remains to be done?

Prioritizing the threat: Right out of the gate, President Biden made a series of welcome announcements to prioritize pandemic response both at home and abroad.  

 

These early announcements included reversing the politically-motivated decision last year to initiate U.S. withdrawal from the World Health Organization (WHO). Instead the Biden-Harris Administration has leaned in to bolster the WHO and the international response to this crisis. Notably, Vice President Kamala Harris’s first conversation as VP with a global leader was with WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros.

COVID-19 response: President Biden has shown leadership by wearing a mask consistently in public, and by issuing a universal mask mandate for all federal buildings, public transportation, and transportation hubs. This cemented the science-backed recommendation that wearing a mask is a key preventative measure. In addition, his first major legislative package, the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), provided urgently needed relief to families, states, and communities grappling with the economic, social, and health impacts of COVID-19, and  accelerated the frontline pandemic response both at home and abroad. Despite some early challenges, the domestic vaccine rollout has accelerated in Biden’s first 100 days, with 235 million vaccines administered and 98 million people fully vaccinated as of today, according to the CDC. Despite these efforts, vaccination rates are now slowing — a worrying trend as vaccines skepticism grows across the U.S.

On the global response front, the Biden Administration has also taken some important steps, namely to commit a total of $7.5 billion to date to the Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator (ACT-A) partnership and its COVAX financing facility to ramp up access to vaccines and other lifesaving tools around the world. As a result, the U.S. is now the leading donor to this global solidarity effort. Highlighting its commitment to the global response, the U.S. hosted international leaders to kick off a virtual resource mobilization campaign for COVAX, urging other wealthy nations to contribute. It also announced agreements to loan vaccine doses to Canada and Mexico, and to provide relief and vaccine donations to India, including mobilizing the U.S. military to provide emergency aid in the face of the country’s growing COVID-19 crisis.  

Pandemic preparedness: U.S. leadership is also needed to strengthen systems for pandemic preparedness, at home and abroad. Pandemic Action Network continues to urge President Biden and other world leaders to lay the groundwork for a pandemic-proof America and world now — before the pandemic fades from view and political and public attention shifts to other priorities, as it has too many times before.  

Here again, the Biden-Harris Administration has laid down some important early markers. First at home: The American Jobs Plan includes a serious commitment of $30 billion to bolster prevent future pandemics and protect against a range of biological threats. This represents renewed and increased commitment to bolstering research and development, surveillance, and strategic stockpiles to ensure America is ready to respond to future disease threats. 

On the global front, President Biden is leading a push for new sustainable financing to help all countries be prepared to counter pandemic threats. Pandemic Action Network is pleased that in NSM1 and several follow-on announcements, the Biden-Harris Administration has expressed its intent to heed our call to establish an enduring international catalytic financing mechanism for preparedness, with the aim to ensure that every country has the core capacity it needs to detect, prevent, and respond to outbreaks at their source before they become deadly and costly pandemics like COVID-19. Earlier this week, Vice President Harris urged representatives at the United Nations to work together now to prepare for the next pandemic. The Administration’s initial budget proposal for FY22 released April 9 backs up these pledges with a $1 billion increase in funding for global health security. 

Looking Ahead: This progress in President Biden’s first 100 days is a welcome start. But much more must be done, and urgently — as the pandemic continues to rage around the world and as the next pandemic threat is looming. Pandemic Action Network has issued an Agenda for Action for world leaders. U.S. support will be critical to drive progress in all of these areas, but here are three where the Biden-Harris Administration can and should lead the way now:

  • Expanded global vaccine access is vital to ending this pandemic. According to the Launch and Scale Faster initiative at Duke University, the U.S. has secured at least 500 million more doses than it needs to vaccinate every American, while some of the poorest nations have yet to receive a single dose. Given U.S. success in vaccination — and the threat to the U.S. of the continued spread of COVID-19 and its variants in other parts of the globe — the Biden-Harris Administration should lead the way to immediately share more excess doses with the world through COVAX. In his first address to Congress, President Biden committed to sharing vaccines with the world once the U.S. has amassed additional supply and when all Americans have access to COVID-19 vaccine. We are there, and we will not end this pandemic if we continue to allow other countries to go unserved. And President Biden should also work with world leaders to agree on a Global COVID-19 Vaccine Roadmap to reach at least 70% global vaccine coverage as soon as possible. 
  • Mobilize additional domestic and international funding for preparedness on par with the threat. To this end, we urge the U.S. to build on its commitment to establish a global financing mechanism for pandemic preparedness with a pledge of at least $2 billion to start, and call on other G7 and G20 member countries to join the U.S. and invest in this effort toward an initial capitalization of $20 billion this year. Separately, the U.S. should also commit a multi-year pledge toward fully funding the five-year plan of action for the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI). CEPI is playing a critical role in accelerating global access to vaccines in this crisis, and has set a bold goal to compress the future timeline to develop new vaccines for emerging pandemic threats so that they can be quickly developed, tested, and rolled out in an emergency. This is the kind of ambition the world needs, and the U.S. must do its fair share to advance this global public good.  
  • Fix the global pandemic defense system. While new and dedicated funding for preparedness is absolutely critical, it’s not the only piece of the puzzle. The COVID-19 crisis has shown that we must strengthen our international instruments of leadership and accountability to ensure both better preparedness and more rapid response to potential pandemics. This includes strengthening our existing global mechanisms such as the WHO and International Health Regulations, but also seriously entertaining bold and new modalities and frameworks for pandemic governance, such as the proposal for a new pandemic treaty, which now has the backing of dozens of other world leaders. President Biden convened world leaders last week on climate change to push for bold solutions; pandemic threats deserve the same level of political priority.

 

The next few months will see a series of global summits and convenings, offering world leaders multiple opportunities to seize the moment and take action. Pandemic Action Network urges President Biden and his Administration to seize these opportunities, doubling down on the progress of the first 100 days and going bigger and bolder on ending this pandemic and preventing the next. While progress since January 20 has been meaningful, the costs of the U.S. and the world failing to act sooner continue to mount — and the pandemic is far from over. Now is the time for a step change in the ambition of the U.S. and global leaders to do what it will take to end this pandemic for everyone, and ensure that COVID-19 leaves a long-term legacy of a pandemic-proof world. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It’s Time to Pandemic-Proof the World: A 2021 Agenda for Action

The devastating health, economic, and social impacts of the COVID-19 global health crisis show that it is well past time for world leaders to prepare for pandemics as the existential, catastrophic, and growing global security threat they are. In 2010, well before COVID-19, there were six times more zoonotic spillover events than in 1980, and the number of new outbreaks continues to grow. Persistent gaps in international pandemic preparedness and response capacities have been flagged by various expert panels in the wake of previous health emergencies, but time and again, once the crisis disappears, political attention and funding shifts to other priorities. This dereliction of duty must stop once and for all.

Despite impacting people around the globe, COVID-19 has not affected everyone equally. The pandemic has exposed and exacerbated long-standing health and socio-economic inequalities within and across countries and in marginalized and vulnerable populations, including inequalities due to gender, race, ethnicity, class, and disability. The glaring disparities in global access to lifesaving COVID-19 vaccines, therapeutics, diagnostics, and vital tools such as oxygen and personal protective equipment (PPE) underscore the inequitable global health and preparedness system. And the lack of proactive attention by leaders to address and account for these inequities has significantly undermined the global COVID-19 response.

As the Global Preparedness Monitoring Board (GPMB) made clear in its September 2020 report A World in Disorder, the world cannot afford to continue to ignore or delay preparations to bolster our collective defenses against emerging pandemic threats. As they battle the current crisis, countries and international institutions must act now to ensure the world is better prepared for the next pandemic threat, which may be lurking just around the corner. These commitments should include building and reliably funding a well-trained and well-equipped health and research workforce, more resilient frontline health systems, timely and transparent disease surveillance, and effective supply chains for vaccines, diagnostics, PPE, and other tools to enable every country to detect, prevent, and rapidly respond to outbreaks before they become deadly and costly pandemics. It is time to invest in a smarter, more responsive, and more resilient global health security architecture.

Pandemic Action Network’s 100+ partners urge world leaders to take urgent action in the following areas to bolster the global COVID-19 response, hasten an end to this global crisis, and lay the groundwork for a more pandemic-proof world.

Support an equitable global response to COVID-19

The only way to end this pandemic is to end it for everyone through a coordinated global response. Yet as world leaders navigate the second year of responding to COVID-19 and securing vaccine doses for their constituents, nationalist inequitable approaches are still pervasive. Recent data shows that the world has now procured enough COVID-19 vaccine doses to reach herd immunity globally, but while some high-income countries have secured multiple times the number of doses as there are eligible adults in their countries, only 0.2% of doses administered have been in low- and middle-incomes countries (LMICs). Although it may seem intuitive for governments to first take action at home, this approach belies the fact that the virus — and its swiftly spreading variants — do not respect borders. Many countries that managed to control or even stop the spread of the virus earlier in the pandemic are once again seeing a surge in cases. There simply is no effective domestic response without also embracing a global approach. Everyone deserves to hope for a swift end to the pandemic, regardless of where they live. But it will only be possible if political leaders act globally as well as locally, knowing no country will be safe until every country is safe.

1. Accelerate global access and delivery of COVID-19 vaccines needed to achieve at least 70% coverage in all countries and enable an equitable global response and recovery.

World leaders should:

  • Fully fund the Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator (ACT-A) in 2021, filling the $22.1 billion funding gap as soon as possible with countries paying their fair share for this global public good. Countries should also commit to continue to invest in research and development (R&D) as well as scale-up of proven tools to prevent, test, and treat COVID-19 and ensure that medical countermeasures are effective against all strain mutations and all variants of concern. Given the scale of resources required, countries will need to tap into fiscal stimulus funding and other financial sources beyond official development assistance (ODA).
  • Agree to a roadmap to achieve at least 70% coverage of vaccines for LMICs, with at least 30% being secured, delivered, and administered in 2021. Leaders need to agree to a fully costed plan to achieve equitable global coverage as soon as possible. The full costs of delivering and administering doses in-country should be included in this roadmap, as well as the investments in vaccine education required to increase vaccine confidence.
  • Commit to donate, free of charge, all excess COVID-19 vaccine doses to the COVAX facility in parallel to their domestic vaccination efforts and start those donations as soon as possible. Countries should immediately announce commitments to share their full surplus supply on the most ambitious timeline possible, putting plans in place to deliver on this commitment as soon as is feasible in 2021 in line with COVAX’s dose sharing principles. These donations should not count as ODA, and should be in addition to funding the ACT-A.
  • Commit to “slot swaps” as another way to give COVAX additional supply. “Slot swaps” should be undertaken whereby high-income countries reallocate some of their existing orders immediately, potentially ordering replacement vaccines to arrive farther in the future, effectively giving their earlier “slots” to COVAX to help provide vaccines for LMICs to close the current acute gap in supply.
  • Ramp up global access and delivery of rapid testing, medical oxygen, and personal protective equipment to the frontlines. Continuing shortages of PPE and medical oxygen for frontline health workers and extremely limited deployment of testing — including genetic sequencing capacity to detect variants of interest — especially in LMICs, is hampering the global COVID-19 response and is a rate limiting factor for global rollout of COVID-19 vaccines and restoration of essential health services.

Prioritize and invest in pandemic preparedness and prevention

According to the IMF, the pandemic will cost the global economy and the World Bank projects that more than 160 million people will fall into poverty by the end of 2021. Conversely, recent estimates are that as little as $10-20 billion annually can ensure the world is much better prepared to detect, prevent, and respond to the next infectious disease outbreak before it becomes another deadly and costly pandemic. To minimize human lives lost from infectious diseases and lessen the impact on countries due to economic fallout, leaders should take the actions below to be prepared for the next pandemic.

2. Establish a catalytic, sustainable multilateral financing mechanism that is dedicated to promoting pandemic preparedness and prevention.

World leaders should:

  • Pledge new investments toward a target $20 billion initial capitalization co-funded from public, private, and philanthropic sources. Priorities for this new multilateral financing mechanism — which will fill a strategic gap in the existing global health architecture — should be on supporting LMICs to develop and implement national action plans for health security and pandemic preparedness, to close their urgent health security gaps, and foster a global “race to the top” among all nations for preparedness. The catalytic nature of this mechanism will help ensure both countries and other global health initiatives prioritize coordinated, multisectoral, prevention and preparedness funding in their domestic budgets, including support for country-level programmatic and managerial capacity in health systems strengthening.
  • Align funding with target country priorities to strengthen pandemic preparedness and containment as well as promote efforts toward pandemic prevention. Programs that should be financed at scale include detecting and stopping the spread of outbreaks and ensuring compliance with the International Health Regulations (IHRs), strengthening laboratory and manufacturing capacity, bolstering and protecting a trained, compensated health workforce, building and strengthening health information systems, ensuring resilient national and regional supply chains, One Health initiatives, and stopping zoonotic spillover from causing new outbreaks through measures such as reductions in deforestation and wildlife trade.

3. Bolster financing and at-the-ready global R&D capacity and coordination to combat emerging infectious diseases and pandemic threats without undermining important funding for existing epidemics research and innovation, including poverty-related and neglected diseases.

Applying the lessons learned from COVID-19, leaders should support the development and financing of mechanisms and initiatives that coordinate and catalyze research and development for new tools, including the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), Global Antibiotic Research and Development Partnership, and other not-for-profit product development partnerships (PDPs) addressing the broad range of health threats.

World leaders should:

  • Fully fund CEPI’s $3.5 billion replenishment. This funding would support the organization’s moonshot initiative of compressing vaccine development for new pandemics to 100 days, and continuing efforts to develop vaccines for known threats. It would also support CEPI’s other objectives, including preparing clinical trial networks to quickly respond to new threats, coordinating with global regulators to streamline vaccine oversight, and linking manufacturing facilities to speed up global production.
  • Support integration of R&D into the Global Health Security Agenda (GHSA) framework to include R&D capacity-building for medical countermeasures. Inclusion of metrics through a GHSA R&D taskforce will help countries assess, prioritize, and better plan for strengthening their R&D capabilities.
  • Build on the ACT-A’s response to COVID-19 to ensure a robust, end-to-end, and sustainable investment in global health R&D for pandemic preparedness, including long-term investments to strengthen global research, laboratory, and manufacturing capacities. This future readiness state should also foster more investments and partnerships with diverse research and academic institutions to both build regional R&D prior to crises and scale up support during emergencies. Investments should be made with policies that promote equitable global access to and affordability of tools like vaccines, diagnostics, and therapeutics.

4. Strengthen global and national surveillance capacities & outbreak analytics.

COVID-19 has demonstrated global gaps in early detection and data sharing around emerging threats, as well as gaps in ongoing surveillance capacities of countries, especially low-resource countries. Current emerging infectious disease surveillance and investigation is poorly allocated, with the majority of the globe’s resources not focused on areas with the most zoonotic hotspots where the next emerging deadly pathogen is likely to originate.

World leaders should:

  • Strengthen integrated national disease surveillance capacities in LMICs. Such surveillance capacities should take a One Health approach and be responsive to local needs (i.e., give results in real-time for use by clinicians and public health officials). Such capacities should not be developed in a silo for pandemic risk monitoring; rather they should provide utility for day-to-day public health programs, leverage the latest developments in digital tools to streamline operations for health workers, and accelerate data flow and analysis.
  • Strengthen mechanisms and platforms that allow for independent sharing and verification of data related to emerging health threats, complementary to and in partnership with the WHO’s role in collecting data from official sources under the IHRs. Such capacities should enable and promote more transparency and accountability in data access for all relevant stakeholders.
  • Commit to the rapid publishing and sharing of line list and pathogen genome data into shared repositories (e.g., the Global Influenza Surveillance and Response System and the International Nucleotide Sequence Database Collaboration) to ensure that data necessary to monitor variants of concern can be acted upon before they become dominant.
  • Support innovations in outbreak detection and analytics capacity nationally through emergency operations centers, regionally through academic centers of excellence, and globally through laboratory and disease surveillance networks. The ACT-A has taught the community about the importance of collaboration and rapid response, and these lessons should be applied to future tools.

5. Bolster global capacities, institutions, and systems for pandemics, health security and resilient health systems, including through reforming WHO and strengthening international frameworks for pandemic preparedness and response.

World leaders should:

  • Build consensus for, and rapidly move to implement, proposals that will strengthen the WHO as the global coordinating authority on health. Leaders should support proposals for sustainable financing of the WHO, including incremental increases in assessed contributions and more (and more flexible) voluntary financing. Such resourcing should go hand-in-hand with strengthening the WHO’s normative and technical capacities, including the Chief Scientist’s Office, the Health Emergencies Programme, and the WHO Academy, and with encouraging greater staff mobility and budget flexibility to bolster the WHO’s capacities at the country-level. In line with the Framework for Engagement with Non-State Actors (FENSA), leaders must enable more robust and transparent engagement with key stakeholders such as civil society and the private sector.
  • Strengthen the IHRs to foster more timely and accountable response to pandemic threats, including to authorize international investigations. Leaders should afford the WHO the ability to independently investigate potential and emerging threats, specify better information sharing, and better calibrate the definitions of a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC). Metrics on equity, R&D, infection prevention control, capacity strengthening, and water, sanitation and hygiene should also be included in the IHR Monitoring and Evaluation Framework, to incentivize countries to assess, plan, prioritize, and better support sustainable and resilient health systems, and promote healthcare worker safety.
  • Support other voluntary and compulsory instruments to strengthen accountability of nation states and foster multilateral cooperation for pandemic preparedness and response. Many gains can be made by strengthening existing mechanisms and instruments, which should be prioritized alongside the proposal for a new pandemic treaty. Such instruments should promote accountability in functions including ensuring novel countermeasures are treated as global public goods; motivating faster flow of financing to address direct and collateral impacts of pandemics, including protecting frontline health workers and social protection for vulnerable populations such as refugees and those living in conflict-affected areas; reaffirming the centrality of human rights considerations in the context of a pandemic; boosting domestic R&D and manufacturing capacity; and establishing up data surveillance systems, and norms and standards around data sharing and data privacy.
  • Scale up national and global vaccine education efforts to increase vaccine confidence, distribution, and uptake. Countries should have budgets dedicated for vaccine education within health ministries, initiate public education campaigns to manage the spread of misinformation online, and build capacity for vaccine hesitancy research. Training should be prioritized for frontline healthcare workers, community leaders, and others in how to engage in difficult conversations on vaccine hesitancy.

6. Promote equity-focused initiatives and human rights protections in all aspects of pandemic preparedness, response, and recovery, including specific attention to address the intersectional and gendered effects of outbreaks.

World leaders should:

  • Commit to equitable financing to support populations most at risk for morbidity and mortality, including addressing inequities due to disparities in gender, race/ethnicity, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, and disability.
  • Ensure commitments to human rights and equity are met, in alignment with IHR Article 3 on human rights, the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 for Women, Peace and Security, the UN Political Declaration for Universal Health Coverage, and the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
  • Commit to equal and diverse representation on emergency committees, including the IHR Emergency Committee and UN technical working groups, with active and meaningful participation of gender advisors and civil society groups as non-participant observers of EC meetings.
  • Ensure that all data pertinent to pandemic preparedness and response collected by the WHO and other health-focused UN bodies (as well as national governments) is published and disaggregated by sex and key socioeconomic groups.

 


 

An array of upcoming international summits — including the G20, G7, World Health Assembly, World Bank/IMF Meetings, and UN General Assembly — offer opportunities for leaders to act on this agenda. Critically, while health ministers have a key role to play, a concerted effort to end pandemics is a whole of government effort — and must be addressed at the level of heads of state. That is why the Pandemic Action Network supports the GPMB’s call for the UN Secretary-General to convene a focused UN High-Level Summit on Pandemic Preparedness and Response to mobilize increased domestic and international financing and advance efforts toward a new international framework for pandemic preparedness. Such a summit at head of state level should take up the forthcoming findings of the Independent Panel for Pandemic Preparedness and Response (the Independent Panel), the G20 High-Level Independent Panel for Financing the Global Commons (HLIP), the International Health Regulations (IHR) Review Committee, and the proposal for a new international treaty on pandemic preparedness and response.

World leaders must seize this opportunity to commit to action and leave a legacy of a healthier and safer world. We can pandemic-proof the future if world leaders act now. The world can’t afford to wait.

Our Pandemic Anniversary Wish: Let’s Pandemic-Proof the Planet

Co-founders of Pandemic Action Network: Carolyn Reynolds, David Kyne, Eloise Todd, and Gabrielle Fitzgerald

One year ago, on March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) finally told the world what was already clear: that with 118,000 cases in over 110 countries and territories around the world, COVID-19 could be “characterized as a pandemic.” Of course, we had no idea at that time just how large and protracted this global crisis would become, with more than 117 million cases and over 2.6 million deaths worldwide and counting as of today.

It’s been a year of both horrible and amazing developments. Around the world, governments have scrambled, misinformation has flourished, advocates have rallied, scientists have mobilized, frontline healthcare, public health, essential workers have stepped up. There have been incredible stories of resilience, adaptation, and innovation by families, communities, and businesses. Yet crisis can be a great revealer, and this one has also exposed and preyed upon deep and longstanding global inequities, vulnerabilities, and broken systems.

The anniversary of this crisis should be a moment for all of us to reflect on what we have learned, and to commit to bold and urgent action.

Leaders have an historic opportunity to take actions now that will not only hasten the end of this pandemic, but will also begin to pandemic-proof the planet so that future generations never again experience the health, economic, and social devastation we have seen over the past year. 

The pandemic has affected every aspect of our lives and the solutions require leadership from all of us. We need the best and brightest not only working in science and health but also in finance, defense, technology, education, manufacturing, transport, and across every other sector of the global economy to join forces to solve this global challenge. And pandemic-proofing the planet demands that we tackle the dual threats of climate and health hand-in-hand.

We are calling on world leaders to seize this moment to commit to take action in four areas that will help pandemic-proof the planet and leave humanity healthier, safer, more resilient, and more prosperous.

Pandemic Action Network’s Pandemic-Proof Agenda

Speed up access and delivery of COVID-19 vaccines and other lifesaving tools to everyone, regardless of where they live. This starts with fully funding the Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator and COVAX Facility. It also means countries which have secured more vaccine doses than they need should start donating vaccines to reach other nations in need, in parallel to their domestic vaccine rollout. Governments and industry also must join together to find the resources, and eliminate the bottlenecks, necessary to ramp up global manufacturing capacity, as part of a roadmap to get to at least 60-70% vaccine coverage in every country. With the evolving virus strain mutations, we are in a race against time to control this pandemic. But let’s also make sure these efforts do not come at the expense of other global health needs and goals.

Get serious on investing in pandemic preparedness. Donor nations, private foundations, and investors should come together to establish a sustainable global financing mechanism for pandemic preparedness, with an initial funding target of US$20 billion. Now is the time to fuel a global “pandemic-proof challenge” to ensure that every country has the plans, capacity, trained workforce, and functioning system it needs to effectively prevent, detect, and respond to outbreaks at their source before they spread and become deadly pandemics. This initiative should also incentivize countries to prioritize pandemics in their domestic budgets as a long-term security threat. Smart climate, biodiversity, and land-use policies must be a critical piece of those plans.

Bolster global research, development, and delivery of tools for emerging infectious disease threats. The COVID-19 crisis has shown that the world needs an at-the-ready capacity for timely delivery of the health technologies and supplies needed to combat both the known and unknown diseases likely to spark the next pandemic. A good start will be to support the US$3.5 billion five-year strategy of the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) to achieve its moonshot goal to have a new vaccine ready within 100 days when the next novel disease outbreak happens. And we must build a seamless global network of regional R&D, manufacturing, and supply hubs and streamline regulatory processes so that every nation can quickly get the tools when they need them.

Build a smarter global pandemic defense system. Defense starts with prevention, and the UK’s five-point plan for the G7 and the COP26 meeting later this year offer the opportunity for bold action on climate which could drastically reduce the chances of pandemics occurring in the first place. But we know outbreaks will happen, and more frequently. So the WHO must be strengthened and fit-for-purpose, with reliable funding, enhanced authority to conduct early and independent outbreak investigations, and the ability to hold member states accountable for compliance with the International Health Regulations (IHRs). To help “pandemic-proof” the future, the world also needs a new international preparedness framework or pandemic treaty and a state-of-the-art, global virus surveillance and detection system to better predict and manage cross-border threats.

A year into this crisis, we are all experiencing pandemic fatigue. The rollout of new vaccines is providing hope that the end may be near, and we can get on with our lives. Yet the reality today is that for the vast majority of the world’s population, that hope remains elusive. Everyone will remain at risk until there is universal access to the vaccines and the virus is contained everywhere. Unless we speed up the global response, we could be marking the second anniversary of this pandemic next year. Furthermore, the next pandemic could be around the corner, and could be even more lethal and costlier than this one.

But it doesn’t have to be this way: we can pandemic-proof the future if world leaders heed our wish and take action now in these four areas. The world can’t afford to wait.

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.

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

By Amish Laxmidas

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

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

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

 

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


About UNITE

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

A Year into COVID-19: It’s Time to Urgently Fund the Global Response and Start Preparing the World for the Next Pandemic

By Carolyn Reynolds and Eloise Todd

January 30 marks the one-year anniversary of the World Health Organization’s declaration of COVID-19 as a global health emergency. Yet as governments around the world have scrambled to respond and protect their citizens from the fast-moving pandemic, support for the global COVID-19 response has continued to be given short shrift. If we are going to end this devastating pandemic and make sure we are better prepared for the next one, this national near-sightedness must change now. 

The frightening speed with which variant strains of COVID-19 are spreading around the globe is further proof of how highly nationalist responses to the pandemic are misguided. While it may seem intuitive for governments to first take action at home, this approach belies the fact that the virus does not respect borders. Many countries that managed to control or even stop the spread of the virus earlier are once again seeing a surge in cases. There simply is no effective domestic response without also embracing a global approach.  

That’s why at the Pandemic Action Network we have been urging support for a robust, coordinated global response as the only way to hasten the end to COVID-19 everywhere and ensure that the trillions that countries are spending to try to end this crisis also help jumpstart long-ignored investments in better global preparedness to help stop the next pandemic before it starts. 

Early announcements on the importance of global engagement on the COVID-19 response and pandemic preparedness from the new Biden Administration in the US, together with the plans from the Italian presidency of the G20 and the European Commission to host a Global Health Summit in May and a 5-point plan from the UK presidency of the G7, are important signals of support for a stronger international approach. Those opportunities, along with the forthcoming final report of the Independent Panel for Pandemic Preparedness and Response, offer an unprecedented political window of opportunity to act. But that window will likely close quickly as high-income countries get more of their populations vaccinated from COVID-19 and governments begin to shift their attention toward economic recovery and other needs that have been neglected during the pandemic. 

Our international network of more than 90 partner organizations is calling on world leaders to own and accelerate an aggressive agenda to stop the spread of COVID-19 everywhere and leave humanity better prepared for emerging pandemic threats. The imperative to act has never been greater: this deadly and costly pandemic has affected every nation, and the next one is lurking. Leaders need to get these four things done urgently in 2021 to make the world safer:

Fully fund the Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator (ACT-A) and COVAX Facility to   speed up global access to COVID-19 vaccines. If vaccines are distributed only to high-income countries first, recent estimates are that the world may only avoid one-third of COVID-19 related deaths. While political commitments made thus far toward the ACT-A and its COVAX Facility have been a bright spot of rhetorical solidarity, world leaders must act on those words to urgently close the ACT-A financing gap to accelerate widespread distribution, not only in vaccines, which are in the spotlight right now, but also of diagnostics and therapeutics which will be needed even more while supplies of vaccines build up. When it comes to vaccines, all countries should also commit to work through the COVAX Facility to exchange and donate their excess vaccine supplies to support other nations in need.

Ramp up investments in frontline preparedness. Recent estimates point to at least a  US$5-10 billion annual funding gap to make the world better prepared for pandemics. This amount is likely now higher given the toll of COVID-19 has inflicted on frontline health workers and already struggling health systems around the world, particularly in low- and middle-income countries. Yet this is still a small fraction of the trillions governments have spent on COVID-19 stimulus packages, vaccines, and other response measures to date. Just as the world mobilized to respond to the global AIDS crisis, this moment calls for a bold, dedicated multilateral financing mechanism to supercharge pandemic preparedness. Creating a Global Health Security Challenge Fund will support countries to close their critical health security gaps and stimulate a global “race to the top” for better preparedness. Once the ACT-A is fully funded, donor nations, private foundations, and investors should kickstart the Challenge Fund with an initial US$10 billion this year.

Bolster global research, development, and delivery of tools for emerging infectious disease threats. This crisis has shown that the world needs an at-the-ready capacity for timely delivery of the health technologies and supplies needed to combat the known and unknown diseases likely to spark the next pandemic. Leaders should secure and finance the effective Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) to ensure it has the resources necessary to continue to respond to COVID-19 and also to secure its future. Building on the emerging lessons from the current pandemic, CEPI has the potential to serve as a permanent global R&D coordination hub with an end-to-end approach, working closely with the World Health Organization on the global R&D Blueprint. Leaders should also help build and/or fortify a network of regional R&D, manufacturing, and supply hubs so that every continent and every nation can quickly get the tools to stop outbreaks at their source.  

Build a smarter global pandemic defense system. The WHO must be fit-for-purpose, with reliable funding, enhanced authority to conduct early and independent outbreak investigations, and the ability to hold member states accountable for compliance with the International Health Regulations (IHRs). To help “pandemic-proof” the future, the world also needs a new international preparedness framework and a state-of-the-art, global outbreak detection system to better predict and manage cross-border threats. European allies have laid out a 10-point WHO reform plan which, together with the forthcoming report of the Independent Panel, can provide the basis to achieve consensus on a more responsive global system. Pandemic preparedness should be at the top of the UN Security Council agenda, and the UN Secretary-General should convene heads of state in a global preparedness summit before the year’s end to secure their commitments to act – and enable their citizens to hold them to account.

Everyone deserves to hope for a swift end to the pandemic, regardless of where they live. But it will only be possible if our political leaders act globally as well as locally, knowing no country will be safe until every country is safe. Their shared goal should be even bigger: to leave a legacy of a healthier and safer world by taking the steps necessary to help prevent another deadly and costly pandemic from happening again.

Go Big: President Biden Has an Unprecedented Opportunity to Make Humanity Safer from Pandemic Threats

By: Carolyn Reynolds

The inauguration of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris as the new U.S. President and Vice President has arrived with a mix of sadness and hope. The 400 lights along the Lincoln Memorial reflecting pool and 200,000 flags on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. are poignant reminders of the devastating COVID-19 pandemic. The deadly combination of this protracted health crisis and the recent assault on the U.S. Capitol building have cast a dark shadow over this historic occasion. Yet it also underscores the tremendous urgency – and opportunity – to finally get COVID-19 under control and take the steps necessary to make America and the world better prepared for future pandemic threats. It is now or never to go big – both on pandemic response and on preparedness.

With 400,000 American deaths and counting and tens of millions of families struggling with unemployment, hunger, and virtual schooling, the new Administration has rightly made the domestic COVID-19 response job one. Before inauguration, President Biden rolled out an ambitious $1.9 trillion COVID-19 stimulus and response plan and plan to vaccinate 100 million in 100 days. Included in the package is a relatively very modest, but critically important, $11 billion toward the global pandemic response – recognizing America will not be safe until every country is safe, and that America’s health and economic recovery from the pandemic is highly dependent on the world’s health and recovery.

More good news came from Secretary of State-designate Tony Blinken’s remarks at his confirmation hearing that the United States would formally join COVAX to promote global access to COVID-19 vaccines. Together with the appointment of an experienced slate of leaders to key Administration posts who are highly knowledgeable on pandemic threats – Blinken, Ron Klain, Jake Sullivan, Susan Rice, Samantha Power, Beth Cameron, Bonnie Jenkins, and Rochelle Walensky, among others – and the plan to reverse withdrawal of the United States from the WHO on day one, the Biden-Harris Administration is off to a good start.

But the new President and his team must do much more to meet this moment in history. Even as we fight the pandemic before us, the next pandemic will not wait. The failure to sustain high-level political leadership and investments to prioritize pandemic preparedness left the world highly vulnerable to the novel coronavirus. A full year into this crisis, there are still gaping holes around the world in frontline infection prevention and control capabilities and reliable data. Gaps in affordable access to vaccines, diagnostics, treatments, personal protective equipment and other essential supplies to detect, prevent, and respond to outbreaks are more glaring than ever, despite repeated warnings and solutions from numerous expert commissions and reports over the past five years. It should not be this way.

It is time to go big. As a centerpiece of President Biden’s plans to assert America’s position as a go-to leader and partner on the world stage, we are urging the Biden-Harris Administration to work with Congress and world leaders to launch and lead an aggressive agenda for action on global health security, including:

1) Finish the fight on the global COVID-19 response: Urgently help close the remaining financing gap for the Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator to support widespread global distribution of vaccines, and commit to work through the COVAX facility to exchange and/or donate vaccine supplies to support other nations in need.

2) Ramp up U.S. investments in global health and pandemic preparedness: Establish a dedicated Global Health Security Challenge Fund to accelerate national investments to close critical health security gaps and stimulate a global “race to the top” for preparedness. The United States should commit $2 billion to kickstart a $10-20 billion Challenge Fund – a tremendous bargain compared to the trillions being spent for COVID response and recovery. Overall, the United States should double funding for global health security and other global health programs over the next five years, including investing in a stronger frontline health workforce as the first line of defense for outbreaks.

3) Build a smarter global pandemic defense system: Ensure the WHO is fit-for-purpose, including reliable funding, enhanced authority to conduct early and independent outbreak investigations, and the ability to hold member states accountable for compliance with the International Health Regulations (IHRs). To help “pandemic-proof” the future, the world also needs a new international preparedness framework and a state-of-the-art, global outbreak detection system to better predict and manage cross-border threats. The United States should also put pandemic preparedness at the top of the UN Security Council agenda and call on the UN Secretary-General to convene heads of state in a global preparedness summit this year.

4) Bolster global research, development, and delivery of tools for emerging infectious disease threats: Make a $200 million commitment for U.S. participation in the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) and expand its capacity to serve as a permanent global R&D coordination hub with an end-to-end approach. Leaders should also fortify a network of regional R&D, manufacturing, and supply hubs so that every continent and every nation can quickly get the tools to stop outbreaks at their source. Supporting a global health security-focused Grand Challenge at USAID and a permanent emerging and reemerging infectious diseases funding line for BARDA will be other key tools in our pandemic arsenal.

5) Elevate U.S. global leadership, diplomacy, and accountability: Designate and empower high-level interagency leadership roles with the funding necessary to elevate and sustain global preparedness as a continuing national security, diplomatic, and health priority. A 9/11-style bipartisan Commission on the U.S. Response to COVID-19 would provide a critical public examination and political pressure to address the most urgent national and global preparedness gaps, and seek ways to protect the independence of our science and public health agencies.

This won’t be easy, given pressing domestic demands and deep divides and distrust in Congress and the American public. But like the response to 9/11 and the AIDS pandemic, the COVID-19 crisis demands extraordinary U.S. global leadership, ingenuity, and political resolve – to treat pandemics as the existential global and national security threat they are.

The good news is that there is a strong record of bipartisan support on addressing infectious disease threats to build on – from the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness Act (PAHPA) to the Global Health Security Agenda (GHSA) and the 2015 Ebola supplemental bill. President Obama’s November 2016 Executive Order was left in place by the Trump White House, which also produced a strong Biodefense Strategy (2018) and Global Health Security Strategy (2019) at the direction of Congress. Bipartisan House and Senate bills introduced in the last Congress provide a starting point for building a new consensus.

Just as the military continuously prepares for war on multiple fronts, we can and must prevent the next pandemic while fighting this one. But the political opportunity to act is now, while the impact of COVID-19 is still front and center in people’s lives. Waiting until this pandemic is over or the next one comes is simply too late. We must not wait for the next crisis to act.

Recommendations for the Biden-Harris Administration – Now or Never: An Agenda for Global Action to Make America and the World Safer from Pandemic Threats

We urge President-elect Biden and the incoming Biden-Harris Administration to launch and lead an aggressive agenda for action on global health security to end the COVID-19 pandemic as quickly as possible while accelerating global preparedness for the next pandemic. The following five-point agenda for action has been prepared by a group of leading U.S. global health policy experts, including two of our Pandemic Action Network co-founders. The outlined recommendations reflect the group’s collective experience as well as the conclusions of an extensive body of research and reports from numerous expert groups over the past five years. As the pandemic has upended lives and livelihoods in every household in America and every corner of the globe, the political moment is ripe for President-elect Biden to galvanize and lead a global coalition of public and private actors around a shared commitment to help prevent a deadly and costly pandemic like COVID-19 from happening again. President-elect Biden has the opportunity to leave a longer-term legacy that will better prepare humanity to more effectively address emerging pandemic threats, and break the persistent cycle of panic and neglect once and for all. Waiting until this crisis is over or until the next one happens will be too late. It’s now or never. Read the five-point agenda white paper here: Now or Never: An Agenda for Global Action to Make America and the World Safer from Pandemic Threats

Pandemic Action Agenda: What World Leaders Should Do to Help Prevent the Next Pandemic

With global COVID-19 cases set to surpass 50 million and spiking across the United States and Europe, world leaders are gathering in a series of international summits to discuss what they will do to stop the pandemic. The current crisis demands urgent and united action as a global community, as no country will be safe from the virus until every country is safe.

But this pandemic didn’t have to happen, and the next one won’t wait. As they fight the current battle, leaders must also take steps NOW to bolster our global and national defenses against emerging pandemic threats before they materialize.

Synthesizing lessons of what has gone wrong in COVID-19 and in previous outbreaks and epidemics, the Pandemic Action Network’s Global Health Security Architecture Working Group has identified six priorities for international action to ensure the world is better prepared for the next pandemic. These are captured in our brief Pandemic Action Agenda paper released last month.

 

 

Pandemic Action Agenda Series

Now we’re pleased to release a series of Pandemic Action Agenda papers which expand on each of the six priority areas for action:

Pandemic Action Agenda Summary: Calling on world leaders to strengthen the global health security architecture and governance and make the world better prepared for pandemics. 

Global Health R&D: Bolstering the global research and development architecture for health security.

Outbreak Detection: Enhancing the availability and use of reliable data and early warning systems to drive more effective preparedness and response to outbreaks.

Pandemic Financing: Mobilizing sufficient funding for national pandemic preparedness and global response efforts. 

Country Capacity: Enhancing countries’ capacity to prevent and respond to outbreaks through technical assistance and improving health security infrastructure.

Pandemic Supplies: Solving supply chain bottlenecks and ramping up regional and local production and delivery to ensure health workers everywhere have access to sufficient quality personal protective equipment (PPE) and other frontline health supplies.

Metrics and Evaluation: Increasing accountability through more effective mechanisms to assess—and fill gaps in—country preparedness levels. COMING SOON

 

What You Can Do

Advocate for action. Help us deliver the Pandemic Action Agenda directly to key decision-makers in your country and international organizations, and press them to take action on these issues. Contact Naomi Komuro at [email protected] and let us know who you can reach (or we can give you ideas!). 

Spread the word. Share the #PandemicActionAgenda on your social media channels and through other communications within your networks to help build us momentum to prioritize global preparedness. Find the social toolkit here

Hold leaders to account. Sustained advocacy and communications are essential to avoid repeating the cycle of panic and neglect when it comes to deadly outbreaks. Follow up with decision-makers through emails, meetings or events, and ask them share what they are doing to respond to the Pandemic Action Agenda—and let us know what you learn to inform our ongoing advocacy efforts. 

Every effort we make in the fight against COVID-19 should leave a longer-term legacy that better prepares humanity to more effectively deal with outbreaks and pandemics and—when possible—to prevent them at the source. 

Want to learn more? Please contact Carolyn Reynolds, Co-Founder, Pandemic Action Network at [email protected]

 

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

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

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!

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.

 

Advice to the Independent Panel on Preparedness and Response

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

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

Break the Cycle of Panic and Neglect: Preventing the Next Pandemic

Time for unprecedented international cooperation say global health organizations

In the wake of the US decision to terminate the relationship with the World Health Organization (WHO), Pandemic Action Network and leading global health organizations have published a brief paper outlining some of the critical steps that the world needs to take to prevent pandemics.

The report sets out a key challenge for global leaders to work together in an unprecedented way to end COVID-19 as swiftly as possible and prepare for future pandemic threats.

The report, published jointly by the Pandemic Action Network, ONE, PATH, Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI), Global Health Security Agenda Consortium (GHSAC), Management Sciences for Health (MSH) and Global Citizen highlights how years of ‘panic and neglect’ in the international health system has led to inadequate preparedness for pandemics in every country, resulting in the loss of hundreds of thousands of lives to COVID-19. Among the report’s recommendations is to strengthen WHO. Read the report HERE.