New report underscores the need for COVID-19 therapeutics

There is a pronounced need for treatments at all stages of COVID-19, a new report has said

By Madhumita Paul
Published: Wednesday 11 August 2021

Photo: Wikimedia CommonsA new report has highlighted that the need for developing therapeutics against the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) was now more pronounced than ever.

The policy report released by the Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative (DNDi), a non-profit research and development organisation, also noted that the development of therapeutics had been relatively neglected in the global response to COVID-19.

While great strides had been made in the development of new tools for COVID-19, especially vaccines, access was the unfinished business of global health, Bernard Pecoul, executive director of DNDi, said.

“We now have the opportunity to course correct with treatments and make the response to COVID-19 a model for equity, collaboration and knowledge- sharing,” he added.

A number of factors had hindered progress in COVID-19 therapeutics, the report said. One was that not much political and financial attention had been paid to therapeutics research.

Another was that the main body set up to accelerate the development and delivery of COVID-19 treatments — the Therapeutics Partnership of Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator (ACT-A) — had fallen short in critical ways.

A third reason was a lack of clarity about whether COVID-19 treatments could guarantee affordable access, sufficient supply and equitable allocation globally.

One area that had been particularly neglected was early therapeutic interventions that could prevent disease progression and the need for hospitalisation, intensive care or worse, the report said.

The report urged the international community to avoid repeating mistakes that would hinder innovation of and access to COVID-19 therapeutics.

The report also recommended:

  • Increasing attention on the need for therapeutics
  • Transforming the governance structure of ACT-A to provide equal representation from low- and middle-income countries
  • Securing policies such as a temporary waiver on intellectual property to ensure transfer of technology to ensure access for all

The report, titled Another triumph of science, but defeat for access? Was published August 5, 2021. It was authored by experts from Kenya, India, the US and Switzerland.

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