Health

ACT-Accelerator launches six month plan as world transitions to long-term COVID-19 control

    • The Plan outlines the key priorities and working methods of the partnership, as countries move to manage COVID-19 as an ongoing public health problem.
    • The plan’s main focus is to vaccinate high-risk groups, introduce new treatments, boost testing, and ensure that COVID-19 tools are available for all.
    • Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator – A global collaboration to speed up development, production and equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines, tests and treatments.

    Today, the Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator (ACT) launches its plan for six months. It outlines how, as a partnership between global health agencies and civil society, it will support countries in their transition to long-term COVID-19 management.

    Recognizing the changing nature of the COVID-19 pandemic virus, the plan proposes changes to ACT-A to improve access and work methods. This will ensure that countries have continued access to COVID-19 tools for the long-term, and maintain the readiness of the coalition to address any future epidemics.

    The plan was developed through a consultation process with ACT–A agencies, donors and industry partners, as well as Facilitation Council members. It summarizes priority areas for the partnership’s pillars and coordination mechanisms, and highlights the work that should be kept going, transitioned, canceled, or put on hold. As ACT-A agencies work to improve the implementation, financing and mainstreaming COVID-19 efforts, the transition plan helps them.

    Three areas will be the focus of the next phase of ACTA partner’s work:

    • To ensure a pipeline of new and improved COVID-19 tools, focuses on research and development (R&D), and market shaping activities
    • Establishing institutional arrangements to ensure that all countries have access to COVID-19 vaccines and tests, as well as oxygen, for a sustained period of time
    • In-countrywork to introduce new products (e.g. new oral antivirals, for people at highest risk), and protect priority populations (e.g. full vaccination of older population, health care workers, and other targets), to support national and international goals

    “As the world works towards managing COVID-19 over long-term, ACTA will continue to support nations by providing access vaccines, tests and treatments,” stated Dr Tedros Adhanom Gebreyesus, WHO Director-General. As this plan shows, there is still much to be done to ensure equitable access to these lifesaving tools. Health workers and vulnerable populations should be our first priority.

    The plan also includes the transition to a new ACT–A Tracking and Monitoring Taskforce. It is co-chaired jointly by senior US officials and Indian officials. The Facilitation Council, at the political level, will be in’standby’ mode with the ability to reactivate if necessary due to a rise in severe diseases.

    ACT-A agencies have been driving resource mobilization efforts. This plan outlines the transition to integrate partnership-level financing into each agency’s regular work. The ACT-A agencies will need US$400 million to complete their transition work in the next six months based on the three areas of work above, current financial commitments, and country demand. During this time, the ACT-A hub will provide transparent information about the financing status of ACT–A agencies.

    The ACT-Accelerator, the only global end-to-end solution to accelerate the development and equitable access of COVID-19 vaccines and tests, is the ACT-Accelerator. This partnership played a crucial role in providing access to COVID-19 anti-pandemic countermeasures for low and middle-income countries during the pandemic.

    • More than 1.8 billion vaccines were distributed to 146 countries, territories, including 75% of vaccines used in low-income countries, and most doses to Africa, through COVAX. This is the vaccines pillar headed by CEPI, Gavi and WHO.
    • Over 161 million rapid tests were delivered, which more than half the cost of rapid tests. Around 80% of pandemic-related tests were supplied in Africa by the Diagnostics Pillar, led by FIND, and the Global Fund.
    • Over 40 million COVID-19 courses delivered, unprecedented US$ 1 Billion invested in increasing oxygen access in LMICs and initiating delivery of antivirals through the Therapeutics Pillar. This was led by Unitaid, Global Fund and Wellcome.
    • Through the Health Systems and Response Connector, the Global Fund, WHO, and the World Bank, more than 2 billion pieces of personal protective equipment (PPE) were delivered. They also supported health systems in delivering COVID-19 tools and boosted their laboratory, waste management, and treatment capacities.

     

     

    Seth Berkley CEO of Gavi the Vaccine Alliance: “As lead agencies for COVAX, we aim to constantly evolve to meet the needs and communities we serve. COVAX has been able to scale up its response to the unprecedented pandemic and have achieved a landmark global rollout. COVAX will support low-income countries in order to protect their people through 2023. We will also support countries in integrating COVID-19 vaccinations into routine national immunization programmes, as well as preparing for emergencies and other worst-case situations.

    Ted Chaiban is the Global Lead Coordinator for COVID Vaccine Country Readiness and Delivery. He stated: “COVID-19 vaccination delivery is most effective when it’s country-driven and partners align to support governments by accelerating funding disbursement and leveraging political engagement and providing technical advice and assistance. It is important to establish a multilateral mechanism that guarantees equity in future pandemics (prevention preparation and response) as well as strengthens the essential health systems.

    Dr Philippe Duneton is the Executive Director of Unitaid. “As part the global response to COVID-19 Unitaid, co-leader in the ACT-Accelerator’s therapeutics pillar and partners, have improved access to critical oxygen supplies, facilitated the adoption of life-saving therapies, and facilitated vital diagnostic tests. There is still much to do. We must build resilience at the market and country levels in order to withstand unpredictable and rapidly changing scenarios, despite uncertainties about how the pandemic will develop. COVID-19 has demonstrated that equitable global access to medical countermeasures is possible only if there is a continuum between preparedness for pandemics and response efforts.

    Sir Jeremy Farrar is the Director of Wellcome. “It’s been almost three years since Covid-19 first was discovered, and nobody can predict what will happen next. We know that we cannot afford to remain complacent. This pandemic isn’t over. Access to vaccines, treatments, and tests must be improved globally. This means that the ACT-Accelerator must be fully funded. Despite many advanced economies in the world taking a nationalistic approach to sharing these lifesaving tools, the Accelerator played an important, though sometimes lonely, role in pushing global equity and access to be at center of pandemic response.

    It is vital that we continue to take an integrated and fair approach to this pandemic phase through ACT-A. We also invest in new vaccines that can prevent infection and transmission, as well as better treatments. And, of course, continue testing and sequencing the virus worldwide. Only then can we stop Covid-19 from spreading and prevent a new variant of the virus from emerging.

    CEPI CEO Dr Richard Hatchett stated: “Much of the world is now coexisting with COVID-19. However, we must continue to be vigilant against the evolving threat that this virus poses and strive for equity in access to vaccines. We must also continue to develop better and more effective countermeasures that provide greater immunity and are easier to produce, as well as sustainable manufacturing platforms. Global leaders must continue to support COVAX, ACT-A, and their constituent agencies.

    FIND CEO Bill Rodriguez stated: “Diagnostics can be a crucial enabler of good health for all. They were one of the first tools to be used via ACT-A with partners in-country. We now enter a new phase in managing COVID-19. We stand ready to collaborate with countries to integrate testing into routine healthcare programmes. This will ensure that people in need are connected to the right treatment and maintain vigilance for any new waves.

    Catherine Russell is UNICEF’s Executive Director. “The pandemic continues its impact on decades of progress for children. Therefore, the work of the ACT–A partnership is as vital as ever.” UNICEF will continue to work with its ACT-A partners in order to ensure that all countries and communities have equitable access to vaccines and tools to fight the COVID-19 virus. It also plans to strengthen primary health systems as well as other vital services such routine immunization, which can help children live longer and reach their full potential.

    Peter Sands is the Executive Director of Global Fund. “As the world shifts towards managing COVID-19 over the longer term, and preparing for next pandemics,” said . The Global Fund will continue to work with its ACT Accelelerator partners to build stronger health systems, and ensure equitable and efficient procurements of life-saving goods.

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