President Paul Kagame has said that the initiative to accelerate the availability and access to Covid-19 vaccine will play a key role in ending the pandemic and in getting African countries’ economies and people back to work.
He was speaking on Thursday, September 10, during the inaugural meeting of the Access to Covid-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator Facilitation Council.
A total of US$35 billion is still needed for the ACT-Accelerator to realise its goals of producing two billion vaccine doses, 245 million treatments and 500 million tests, according to World Health Organization (WHO).
Kagame joined Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General; Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission; UN Secretary-General, António Guterres; Cyril Ramaphosa, President of the Republic of South Africa, and Erna Solberg, Prime Minister of Norway, among other leaders at the meeting.
The ACT-Accelerator is the proven, up-and-running, global collaboration accelerating the development, production, and equitable access to Covid-19 tests, treatments, and vaccines, according to the WHO.
President Kagame noted that this is certainly one of the most important initiatives underway in the world today, and perhaps ever.
“The vaccine pillar holds the most promise for getting our economies and our citizens back to work. By pooling risk through this innovative model, we can ensure that vaccine distribution is fair and equitable. This will, in turn, support the resumption of economic activity, which benefits us all,” he observed.
Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.
ACT-Accelerator was launched on 24 April 2020 by WHO with partnership of the European Commission, France and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
The initiative also has the backing of the UN Secretary-General and multiple Heads of Government.
The WHO says that it is already delivering substantial returns; with over 170 countries engaged in the new Covid-19 Vaccine Facility and ten candidate vaccines are under evaluation.
Nine of the vaccine candidates are in clinical trials, giving the largest and most diverse Covid-19 vaccine portfolio in the world.
Kagame highlighted the need to ensure that vaccines and other tools are directed where they are needed most.
“Some countries are at greater risk than others. And some populations within countries require special attention. It is important to prioritise the hotspots,” he said.
He added from experience in Rwanda and Africa in dealing with other health challenges, the difference between success and failure lies in building a robust public health infrastructure that can confront any health issue in a sustainable manner.
“Solid health systems combined with transformational partnerships such as this Accelerator, are absolutely critical,” he said.
Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General, said that nearly 5,000 lives are lost each day to Covid-19 and the global economy is expected to contract by trillions of dollars this year.
“The case for investing to end the pandemic has never been stronger. The ACT-Accelerator is the best way to ensure equitable access to vaccines, diagnostics and therapeutics, but at present is facing a financing gap of US$35 billion. Fully financing the ACT-Accelerator would shorten the pandemic and pay back this investment rapidly as the global economy recovers," he said.
South African President, Cyril Ramaphosa.
Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, said that the launch of the Facilitation Council brings the world closer to global goal to access to coronavirus vaccines, tests and treatments for everyone who needs them, anywhere.
“The EU will use all its convening power to help keep the world united against coronavirus,” he said.
UN Secretary-General António Guterres, said: “We now need $35 billion more to go from set-up to scale and impact. There is a real urgency in these numbers. Without an infusion of $15 billion over the next three months, beginning immediately, we will lose the window of opportunity”.
Investing in the ACT-Accelerator’s multilateral approach increases the chance of success for all countries by giving access to a greater number of tools more quickly, as well as sharing the costs, and mitigating the risks of, R&D (Research and Development for the Covid-19 vaccine), according to the WHO.
Globally, more than 28 million people have contracted Covid-19, while over 909,000 had died from it as of September 11, 2020, indicates a tally from Johns Hopkins University, a research university in the US.Follow https://twitter.com/EmNtirenganya