Over $30bn needed to develop Covid-19 tests, treatments, vaccines

Grant Boone
June 27, 2020

The WHO is working with a large coalition of drug-development, funding and distribution organizations under what it calls the ACT-Accelerator Hub. "If we spend billions now, we'll be able to avoid spending trillions later".

"The time to act is now, and the way to act is together", the former Nigerian finance minister said, stressing the need for equal access for all to any safe and effective vaccines and treatments developed.

Her comments came as the world counts almost 490,000 deaths from Covid-19 and over 9.6 million cases since the new coronavirus emerged in China late past year, according to an AFP tally from official sources.

"Vaccines, diagnostics and therapeutics are vital tools", he said.

Addressing a virtual media conference, Swaminathan said that commitments from high-income and upper-middle-income countries were needed to procure 950 million doses through the COVAX Facility and to ensure that vaccines can be delivered at the greatest possible speed.

"Certainly in terms of how advanced they are, the stage at which they are, they are I think probably the leading candidate", World Health Organization chief scientist Soumya Swaminathan told a news conference.

People wait in a queue for the COVID-19 rapid antigen test in New Delhi India and the country records the highest spike of more than 15,000 new coronavirus cases in the past 24 hours

Nkengasong suggested a key step would be for Africa to partner with the GAVI vaccines alliance which has raised $2 billion from worldwide donors for an Advanced Market Commitment to buy future COVID-19 vaccines for poor countries.

She added: "I think the best bet to bring an end to this pandemic, particularly in the acute phase, is to have a vaccine as soon as possible".

COVAX will compile doses of all nine of the candidate vaccines that the World Health Organization has deemed promising, and buying into the plan is meant to help nations have access to whichever one or several work best, which is not yet known. The initiative, known as Covax, aims to give governments an opportunity to hedge the risk of backing unsuccessful candidates and give other nations with limited finances access to shots that would be otherwise unaffordable.

The University of Oxford and AstraZeneca's experimental vaccine is the first to enter the final stages of clinical trials.

"The critical issue (is) speed". "We never had a vaccine for a coronavirus".

Even producing two billion vaccine doses by the end of 2021 will be far from enough to vaccinate everyone.

Victoria calls in military to assist amid soaring cases
More than 1,000 military personnel are helping with the operation, while other states will help process the test results. These areas are the Melbourne municipalities of Brimbank, Cardinia, Casey, Darebin, Hume and Moreland.

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