WHO-sponsored plan for new COVID-19 tools has shown results: Tedros

The World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that the WHO-sponsored plan for new COVID-19 tools has shown results.

Speaking at a virtual press conference from Geneva on Thursday, the WHO chief said the plan, named Access to COVID-19 Tools ACT-Accelerator and started in April, has come out with nine vaccine candidates that are going through Phase 2 or 3 trials, Xinhua news agency reported.

“And through the COVAX Global Vaccines Facility, countries that represent nearly 70 percent of the global population have signed up or expressed an interest to be part of the new initiative,” he said.

On therapeutics, the WHO chief said that the first proven therapy for severe COVID-19, Dexamethasone, was announced in June with support from the plan’s therapeutic accelerator arm and is currently in scale-up.

“On diagnostics, more than 50 tests are currently in evaluation, and new evidence has been generated around rapid antigen detection tests that could be game-changing,” he noted.

However, the WHO chief told reporters that the ACT-Accelerator plan is now facing a huge financial shortage and “it must be financed to be successful.”

Earlier this week, Tedros said that the plan has only received 10 percent of what is needed.

“It’s easy to think of the ACT-Accelerator as a research and development effort, but in reality it’s the best economic stimulus the world can invest,” he said.

Mentioning that within the first two weeks of January, the viral genome of COVID-19 was mapped in China and shared globally, Tedros stressed that as the pandemic evolved, countries needed to come together in an unprecedented way.

“Today, I want to talk about not how we’re going to go back but how we’re going to go forward. And that to move forward, the best bet is to do it together,” Tedros said.

He pointed out that excess demand and competition for supply are already creating “vaccine nationalism” and the risk of price gouging.

“This is the kind of market failure that only global solidarity, public sector investment and engagement can solve,” he stressed.

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