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UN chief seeks $35b funding for WHO’s COVID-19 vaccine research


United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres yesterday called for a “quantum leap in funding” for the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) initiative to speed up the development of COVID-19 vaccines, therapeutics and diagnostics.

The project, known as the Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator (ACT), has received $3 billion, which Guterres called “critical as a seed funding.”

“But we now need $35 billion more to go from ‘start-up’ to ‘scale-up and impact,’” the UN chief told an online meeting of the ACT facilitation council.

“There is real urgency in these numbers – without an infusion of $15 billion over the next three months, beginning immediately, we will lose the window of opportunity to further advance research, build stocks in parallel with licensing, start procuring and delivering the new diagnostics and therapeutics.

“And help countries prepare to optimise the new vaccines when they arrive,” he said.

The initiative, which was launched at a Brussels donor conference in May, advocates for the fair distribution of future vaccines and medications to developing as well as developed countries.

ACT involves major philanthropic health funds such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, as well as the Britain-based Wellcome Trust.

Guterres also noted a “worrying trend of numerous parallel initiatives and nationally focused efforts that would not only be undermining an effective global response, it would be self-defeating.”

“No one and no country will be safe until everybody is safe,” he said.

Over 30 inoculations undergoing trials

MORE than 30 vaccines against COVID-19 are currently undergoing clinical trials in different countries, including in Russia, and this is very encouraging, the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) spokeswoman in Russia, Melita Vujnovic, has said.

“WHO is encouraged by the fact that more than 30 candidate vaccines are currently undergoing various stages of clinical trials, including in the Russia,” Vujnovic said.

According to her, the WHO continues to interact with Russian scientists and authorities and is looking forward to learning the details of the Russian vaccine trials.

On Aug. 11, Russia became the first country in the world to register a vaccine against the coronavirus, named Sputnik V and developed by the Gamaleya Research Institute of Epidemiology and Microbiology.

The vaccine is undergoing phase 3 of clinical trials.

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