Indonesia President Joko Widodo said on Sunday at the launch of a Group of 20 (G20) pandemic fund that the amount of money raised so far to improve preparedness for future pandemics was not yet sufficient.
The fund launched by G20 chair Indonesia is targeted at low-to middle-income countries to finance efforts like surveillance, research, and better access to vaccines, among others measures.
"I expect bigger support," the president said in a video address to an event in Bali where the G20 holds a summit this week.
The fund has raised about $1.4 billion so far, including contributions from Indonesia, the United States and the European Union, as well as from donors and philanthropic organisations like the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
It was created amid anger among many developing countries over their experience during the COVID-19 pandemic, when richer countries often hoarded the bulk of resources such as vaccines to fight the virus.
Frequently Asked Questions
A vaccine works by mimicking a natural infection. A vaccine not only induces immune response to protect people from any future COVID-19 infection, but also helps quickly build herd immunity to put an end to the pandemic. Herd immunity occurs when a sufficient percentage of a population becomes immune to a disease, making the spread of disease from person to person unlikely. The good news is that SARS-CoV-2 virus has been fairly stable, which increases the viability of a vaccine.
There are broadly four types of vaccine — one, a vaccine based on the whole virus (this could be either inactivated, or an attenuated [weakened] virus vaccine); two, a non-replicating viral vector vaccine that uses a benign virus as vector that carries the antigen of SARS-CoV; three, nucleic-acid vaccines that have genetic material like DNA and RNA of antigens like spike protein given to a person, helping human cells decode genetic material and produce the vaccine; and four, protein subunit vaccine wherein the recombinant proteins of SARS-COV-2 along with an adjuvant (booster) is given as a vaccine.
Vaccine development is a long, complex process. Unlike drugs that are given to people with a diseased, vaccines are given to healthy people and also vulnerable sections such as children, pregnant women and the elderly. So rigorous tests are compulsory. History says that the fastest time it took to develop a vaccine is five years, but it usually takes double or sometimes triple that time.
The World Bank, which will serve as the fund's trustee, and the World Health Organization (WHO), which is advising on the facility, estimated in a report that the annual funding gap for pandemic preparedness is $10.5 billion.
Indonesia's Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati said the fund is expected to increase in size with contributions from France and Saudi Arabia. She did not specify by how much.
She called for proposals from countries looking to access the fund.