Urgently need $7.7 billion to save lives from Delta, emerging COVID-19 variants: WHO

Huge gap in ACT-Acceletor funding needed to deliver crucial medical supplies across the world to combat COVID-19

By DTE Staff
Published: Tuesday 17 August 2021
Urgently need $7.7 billion to save lives from Delta, emerging COVID-19 variants, says WHO. Photo: Vikas Choudhary

The World Health Organization has said it needs $7.7 billion within the next four months to run its Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator (ACT-Accelerator) to fight the acute phase of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

The pandemic has been exacerbated by rapid spread of the highly transmissible Delta variant, low testing rates across low- and lower-middle-income countries and rising infection rate and hospitalisations in the first five months of 2021.

ACT-Accelerator is a global coalition of organisations that delivers critical medical supplies across the globe to combat the disease.

The amount, the WHO said in a release August 17, 2021, will help cover a $16.8 billion funding gap in ACT budget. The funding would be channeled to:

  • Increased testing and better surveillance to detect and protect against new variants
  • More oxygen to treat the seriously ill and save lives
  • Vital personal protective equipment (PPE) to protect health workers
  • Rolling out of emergency response and delivery support for the effective delivery and deployment of COVID-19 tools

As much as $2.4 billion of the $7.7 billion would be needed to put all low- and lower-middle-income countries on track towards a 10-fold increase in COVID-19 testing, the WHO said.

Nearly $1 billion would be needed for research and development, enable further market shaping and manufacturing, demand generation to ensure that tests, treatments and vaccines remain effective against the Delta variant and other emerging variants.

The WHO flagged the need for $1.2 billion to address oxygen needs to treat the hospitalized and severely-ill patients. Protecting frontline healthcare workers — nearly two million of them —would demand another $ 1.7 billion to ensure enough PPE.

The world recorded 182 million cases and 4 million deaths from March 2020 to July 2021. Of this, 53 million cases and 1 million deaths were recorded between April 2021 and July 2021, according to ACT Accelerator quarterly update report.

Only 14.4 per cent doses were administered in low- and lower-middle-income countries, representing 46.7 per cent of the world’s population, as of June 28, 2021.

The ACT Accelerator comprises four pillars: Diagnostics, therapeutics and vaccines (also known as COVAX), with the Health Systems Connector pillar working across the other three. Each pillar is managed by two-three partner agencies.

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General, said:

“$7.7 billion is needed urgently to fund the ACT-Accelerator’s work to address the Delta surge and put the world on track to ending the pandemic. This investment is a tiny portion of the amount governments are spending to deal with COVID-19 and makes ethical, economic and epidemiological sense.”

He added that the world would have to pay for the consequences if the funds were not made available now to stop the transmission of the Delta variant in the most vulnerable countries.

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