Panel calls for more funding in the fight against COVID-19

Written By: Hunja Macharia

A panel of leading experts has called for more funding to increase the manufacturing capacity of COVID-19 vaccines in the World.

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The panel urged the global community to apply proven public health measures urgently and consistently in every Country in order to end the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Independent Panel for Pandemic Preparedness and Response (The Independent Panel) was appointed by the World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General in response to a World Health Assembly resolution calling for an independent, impartial, and comprehensive review of experiences gained and lessons to be learned from the current pandemic.

The Panel has also recommended that National Governments and the international community immediately adopt a package of reforms to transform the global pandemic preparedness and response system and prevent a future pandemic.

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The Panel was tasked with carrying out a review to provide recommendations to improve capacity for global pandemic prevention, preparedness, and response.

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In its findings and recommendations released Thursday and dubbed, COVID-19: Make it the Last Pandemic, the Panel finds that the system as it stands now is clearly unfit to prevent another novel and highly infectious pathogen, which could emerge at any time, from developing into a pandemic.

“The report demonstrates that the current system—at both national and international levels— was not adequate to protect people from COVID-19. The time it took from the reporting of a cluster of cases of pneumonia of unknown origin in mid-late December 2019 to a Public Health Emergency of International Concern being declared was too long. February 2020 was also a lost month when many more Countries could have taken steps to contain the spread of SARS-CoV-2 and forestall the global health, social, and economic catastrophe that continues its grip,” It says.

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Co-chaired by the Rt Hon. Helen Clark, former Prime Minister of New Zealand, and Her Excellency Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, former President of Liberia, the Panel has spent the past eight months rigorously reviewing the evidence on how a disease outbreak became a pandemic, and on global and national responses.

It has recommended that high income countries with a vaccine pipeline for adequate coverage should, alongside their scale up, commit to provide to the 92 low and middle-income countries in the COVAX Gavi Advance Market Commitment with at least one billion vaccine doses by September 2021.

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The Panel also wants the major vaccine-producing countries and manufacturers to convene, under the joint auspices of the WHO and the World Trade Organization (WTO) to agree on voluntary licensing and technology transfer. If actions on this don’t occur within three months, a waiver of intellectual property rights under the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights should come into force immediately.

Lastly it has urged the G7 to immediately commit to provide 60% of the US$19 billion required for the Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator (ACT-A) in 2021 for vaccines, diagnostics, therapeutics, and strengthening of health systems, and a burden-sharing formula should be adopted to fund such global public goods on an ongoing basis.







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