The World Health Organization said Thursday its plan to secure and deploy vaccines, tests and treatments to combat the Covid-19 pandemic needed $23.4 billion over the next 12 months.
Cash for the WHO's Access to Covid Tools Accelerator -- aimed at developing, producing, procuring and distributing tools to tackle the pandemic -- would help fight global inequity in the roll-out.
The WHO said delivering on its plan could help prevent at least five million potential additional deaths on top of the almost five million already recorded, according to an AFP tally from official sources.
"The ACT-Accelerator partnership of leading global health agencies needs US$23.4 billion to help the most at-risk countries secure and deploy Covid-19 tools between now and September 2022," the WHO said in a statement.
"This figure pales in comparison to the trillions of dollars in economic losses caused by the pandemic and the cost of stimulus plans to support national recoveries."
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.
WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that "to end the pandemic, governments, manufacturers and donors must fully fund the ACT-Accelerator to address inequities in access to Covid-19 vaccines, tests and treatments".
"Fully funding the ACT-Accelerator is a global health security imperative for us all -- the time to act is now."
The WHO said its plan would see ACT-A shift towards a more targeted focus on addressing the supply gaps in poorer countries.