G-20 nations must help plug a US$4.5 billion funding gap for a WHO-led program to distribute coronavirus vaccines and pave the way for an end to the pandemic, according to a letter sent by several world leaders, ahead of this weekend's virtual G20 summit.
The letter was signed by Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, World Health Organization (WHO) chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus and Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission.
A commitment by G-20 leaders at the G-20 Summit in Riyadh to invest substantially in the ACT-Accelerator's immediate funding gap of US$ 4.5 billion will immediately save lives, lay the groundwork for mass procurement and delivery of Covid-19 tools around the world, and provide an exit strategy out of this global economic and human crisis, the letter said.
With this funding, and a joint commitment to spend a proportion of future stimulus on the Covid-19 tools needed globally, the G-20 will build a foundation to end the pandemic, added the letter addressed to King Salman of Saudi Arabia, the current G-20 president.
ACT-Accelerator is an initiative led by the WHO that promotes an equitable distribution of Covid-19 vaccines, diagnostics, and treatments globally.
Major pharmaceutical companies are now closing in on vaccines against the virus, amid a global spike in cases that has caused some countries to reimpose restrictions to curb transmission.
The recent breakthroughs on Covid-19 vaccines offer a ray of hope but they must reach everyone, UN chief Antonio Guterres said on Friday.
Over the past seven months, countries have invested US$ 10 billion in the effort to develop vaccines, diagnostics and therapeutics. But US$28 billion more is needed - including US$4.2 billion before the end of the year, he added.
The Covid-19 pandemic has infected more than 55 million people and caused more than 1.3 million deaths worldwide, according to an independent tally, and wreaked a grievous toll on the global economy. The IMF expects the world economy to contract by 4.4% this year.