Over $30 bn needed to develop COVID-19 tests, treatments, vaccines: WHO

World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus speaks during a press conference, that follows the social distancing rules, after a meeting about the COVID-19 outbreak, caused by the novel coronavirus, at the World Health Organization headquarters in Geneva, on June 25, 2020. (AFP)
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Updated 26 June 2020

Over $30 bn needed to develop COVID-19 tests, treatments, vaccines: WHO

  • So far, $3.4 billion of that had been pledged
  • The funds requested should make it possible to deliver 500 million tests and 245 million courses of treatment to low and middle-income countries by mid-2021

GENEVA: The World Health Organization said Friday that a global initiative to speed up the development and production of COVID-19 tests, vaccines and treatments will require more than $30 billion over the next year.
Providing details of the so-called ACT accelerator, launched in April and aimed at pooling international resources to conquer the pandemic, WHO said “the costed plans presented today call for $31.3 billion in funding.”
So far, $3.4 billion of that had been pledged, it said, pointing out that an additional $27.9 billion was needed over the next 12 months, including nearly $14 billion to cover immediate needs.
The announcement came ahead of a major pledging event in Brussels in support of the ACT accelerator, set to take place on Saturday.
“This is an investment worth making,” Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, a special envoy for the ACT accelerator, told a virtual briefing.
“If we don’t rally now, the human costs and the economic pain will deepen,” she said.
“Though these numbers sound big, they are not when we think of the alternative. If we spend billions now, we will be able to avoid spending trillions later.
“The time to act is now, and the way to act is together.”
Okonjo-Iweala’s comments came as the world counts nearly 490,000 deaths from COVID-19 and over 9.6 million cases since the new coronavirus emerged in China late last year, according to an AFP tally from official sources.
The funds requested should make it possible to deliver 500 million tests and 245 million courses of treatment to low and middle-income countries by mid-2021.
They also aim to deliver two billion vaccine doses by the end of next year, of which half will go to low and middle-income nations.
“It’s clear that to bring COVID-19 under control, and to save lives, we need effective vaccines, diagnostics and therapeutics, in unprecedented quantities and at unprecedented speed,” WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told the briefing.
Separate teams are racing to roll out reliable tests, find safe and effective vaccines and treatments for the novel coronavirus, and prepare for large-scale manufacturing.
Tedros meanwhile stressed that a core principle of the initiative is to ensure equal access for all.
“Vaccines, diagnostics and therapeutics are vital tools,” he said.
“But to be truly effective they must be administered with another essential ingredient, which is solidarity.”


UK scientists to update COVID-19 vaccine to resist new variants

Updated 21 January 2021

UK scientists to update COVID-19 vaccine to resist new variants

LONDON: The team behind the UK’s main COVID-19 vaccine, developed at Oxford University, is preparing to update the inoculation to be resistant to new strains of the virus.

British newspaper The Independent reported that the team is mobilizing this new effort in response to the variants seen in the UK, South Africa and elsewhere.

The efficacy of the current vaccine against the most common strains of COVID-19 is being assessed by scientists from the university, with preliminary results expected toward mid-February. 

Prof. Sarah Gilbert, the team’s lead, said the researchers would not wait to discover the test’s results before acting, and instead are already synthesizing the new variants into the jab that is currently being rolled out nationwide.

Scientists at Oxford University are understood to be confident that their vaccine will not need to be adapted in response to the British variant, which was discovered last month after an especially rapid outbreak in Kent. 

Data published by Pfizer and BioNTech, the producers of the other vaccine being provided in Britain, has indicated that their inoculation is resistant to the new COVID-19 strain.

More analysis is being conducted to assess whether it will be able to neutralize the newer South African and Brazilian variants.

A spokesperson from Oxford University said any necessary modifications would take “one day’s worth of work” before being grown in cell culture within a laboratory.

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