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ACT-Accelerator: The price tag for ending the acute stage of the pandemic

COVID-19 Treatment, Transmission, Spreading, Symptoms, Testing and Risks Concept. Chart with keywords and icons on white desk with stationery. Coronavirus symptoms illustration. Asymptomatic example. Image credit: tumsasedgars / 123rf
Image credit: tumsasedgars / 123rf

A report by a number of international organisations has set out the price tag of ending the acute stage of the COVID-19 pandemic: US$35 billion.

Institutions including the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation; the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI); the Foundation for Innovative New Diagnostics; GAVI; the Global Fund; Unitaid; the Wellcome Trust; the World Bank Group; and the World Health Organization (WHO) jointly set out the recommendation in a paper regarding the imperative of investing in the Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator (ACT-Accelerator). Launched on April 24th, 2020, the ACT-Accelerator represents what the organisations describe as “the only global initiative offering a solution to speed up the end of the COVID-19 pandemic…it combines public and private sector expertise and institutions from around the world to accelerate the development, regulatory approval, scale-up, delivery and equitable allocation of COVID-19 tests, treatments and vaccines.” 

The report’s executive summary notes that 

“Nearly 5,000 lives are lost each day due to COVID-19.3 In accelerating global and equitable access to tests, treatments and vaccines that can reduce the incidence and severity of COVID-19 cases, the human health toll of COVID-19 will diminish. Reducing the severity of COVID-19 disease will also ensure the safe provision of health care and will ease pressure on hospitals allowing for the redeployment of resources back towards essential non-COVID-19 health services. Fear of the virus will subside and extreme physical distancing measures will no longer be necessary. International mobility, trade and societal and economic activity will be able to fully resume.”

Furthermore, it asserts, there is a clear economic rationale for investing in the ACT-Accelerator. “The global economy is expected to contract by $US7 trillion in 2020 as a result of the pandemic. ACT-Accelerator’s financing gap is $US35 billion,” the report states. “Fully financing [ACT-Accelerator] to help shorten the duration of the crisis would pay back this investment in less than 36 hours once global mobility and trade are restored.” 

The executive summary adds that “ACT-Accelerator total funding [need] represent less than one percent] of what G20 governments have already committed to domestic economic stimulus packages. Many countries have made significant investments in domestic R&D [research and development] and on domestic economic stimulus packages. However, these investments will not on their own address severe COVID-19 disease, the root cause of the crisis and the key to restarting all aspects of their economies.”

The fundamental point is that “the lack of an adequately financed global exit strategy is an existential threat to the economic and health security of all nations and people.” India, which has incurred significant damage to its economy during the pandemic, has much to lose if there is not a robust response that takes the ACT-Accelerator package of recommendations into account at both the global and national levels. 

“An economic investment case & financing requirements September 2020 – December 2021” can be accessed here.

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