Tag: WHO

G7 leaders commit US$ 4.3 billion to finance global equitable access to tests, treatments and vaccines in 2021

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Photo- @BorisJohnson

By SAT News Desk

GENEVA/MELBOURNE, 20 Feb. 2021: In a massive boost towards global equitable access to tests, treatments, and vaccines in 2021, the US, Germany, the European Commission, Japan, and Canada have pledged over US$ 4.3 billion of new investments at the G-7 summit. These commitments bring the amount committed to a date to US$ 10.3 billion, leaving a funding gap of US$ 22.9 billion to fully fund the ACT Accelerator’s work in 2021.

Leaders recognized that no country can be safe until every country is safe and collectively committed over the US $4.3 billion to the ACT Accelerator partnership to develop and distribute effective tests, treatments, and vaccines around the world.

https://www.g7uk.org/joint-statement-of-g7-leaders-19-february-2021/

The US committed an initial $2 billion to Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance for the COVAX Advance Market Commitment, and a further $2 billion through 2021 and 2022, of which the first $500 million will be made available when existing donor pledges are fulfilled and initial doses are delivered to AMC countries.

· Germany committed US$ 1.8 billion[i] with contributions to all pillars and partners of the ACT Accelerator across tests, treatments, vaccines, and health systems strengthening.

· The European Commission committed US$ 363 million[ii] for the COVAX Advance Market Commitment.

· Japan committed US$ 79 million for the COVAX Advance Market Commitment and UNITAID.

· Canada committed US$ 59 million to the ACT Accelerator.[iii]

In addition, the European Investment Bank is providing a further US$ 242 million[iv] in loan guarantees which will help the ACT Accelerator partnership to frontload future payments to speed up the response.

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The UK’s commitment to join Canada, France, Norway, and the European Union in sharing its additional vaccine doses with developing countries is a vital step to increase the volume of vaccines available worldwide and support the rapid reduction of virus transmission amongst some of the world’s most vulnerable and exposed populations.

The ACT Accelerator’s initial needs for 2020-2021 were US $38.1 billion. Prior to today, an unprecedented mobilization of sovereign donors, private sectors, philanthropic and multilateral contributors had already committed the US $ 6 billion. Considering those pledges, and costs adjustments, today’s new contributions bring the total committed to the ACT Accelerator partnership to US$ 10.3 billion and reduce the funding gap to US$ 22.9 billion.

Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of WHO, said: “I thank the US, Germany, the European Commission, the European Investment Bank, Japan, and Canada for their significant funding commitments. Today’s news shows us solidarity prevails; we can turn a corner on this pandemic by funding the only global solution to end it. History will judge us collectively and I welcome the words of support from today’s G7 Leaders and the Munich Security Council for again highlighting to the world that we have to solve this together.”

The next few weeks will be critical for the global COVID-19 response. Further commitments are needed to fully fund the work of the ACT Accelerator and enable the delivery of more than 2 billion doses of vaccine; medical oxygen and millions of treatment doses including dexamethasone and new products, as and when they become available; and over 900 million diagnostic tests including high-quality, lower-cost molecular tests, antigen detection RDTs (Ag-RDTs) and self-tests. This work will also support the urgent need for rapid R&D, product evaluation, and regulatory pathways for new and modified tests, treatments, and vaccines to meet the needs of global response programs and the threat of new and emerging variants.

The Access to COVID-19 Tools ACT Accelerator is the proven, up-and-running global collaboration to accelerate the development, production, and equitable access to COVID-19 tests, treatments, and vaccines. It was set up in response to a call from G20 leaders in March and launched by the WHO, European Commission, France, and The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in April 2020.

Is India’s COVID vaccine giveaway risky diplomacy?

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By Aditya Sharma, New Delhi, 16.02.2021

India’s government has been supplying countries around the world with free coronavirus vaccine doses. However, there is some worry that this “vaccine diplomacy” will come at a cost to vulnerable Indians.

On Monday (15 Feb. 2021), the World Health Organization (WHO) approved the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine for use in its COVAX vaccination program, which aims to provide poorer countries around the world with “equitable access” to COVID-19 vaccines.

The Serum Institute of India (SII), the world’s largest vaccine maker by volume, has agreed to produce 1.1 billion doses for delivery.

And India is leveraging its manufacturing capabilities to launch its own initiative aimed at bolstering its global image as the “pharmacy of the world.”

India has already started distributing millions of its domestically produced coronavirus vaccines for free to some of its neighbors and several countries around the world.

The “vaccine maitri” (Hindi for vaccine friendship) initiative was announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi days after India began its nationwide vaccination campaign in January.

“India is deeply honored to be a long-trusted partner in meeting the healthcare needs of the global community,” Modi said last month. “Supplies of COVID vaccines to several countries will commence [on January 20], and more will follow in the days ahead.”

Former Indian diplomat KC Singh has tweeted several times that the country was indulging in “vaccine diplomacy,” amid initial concerns that the number of doses exported was more than those administered domestically.

However, Raja Mohan, Director of the Institute of South Asian Studies, National University of Singapore, said that New Delhi was making a smart move by using it’s vaccine production to improve international relations.

“Delhi is showing both the political will and the diplomatic sensibility to use the cards it has,” Mohan told DW.

“You cannot consume all the vaccines you produce yourself in a short time. They have a shelf life,” he added.

“India is rolling out a national program, and they can take a bit of that to other countries,” he said adding that India’s large production capacity makes the initiative possible.

“Over the last four decades, India has become a major manufacturer of pharmaceuticals, generic drugs, and vaccines. Biotechnology research has also grown in India, which has given it more capabilities to be able to undertake such an initiative,” he said.

What are India’s benefits?

Closer to home, India’s vaccine outreach could play a role in repairing strained ties with its immediate neighbors such as Nepal, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka.

India-Nepal relations plummeted last summer after a diplomatic spat over a border dispute.

Both countries have made competing territorial claims over a stretch of disputed land that lies at a strategic three-way junction with China.

India’s relations with Bangladesh and Sri Lanka have been similarly frayed, and China has been a factor, with varying degrees, in these two cases.

But as neighboring countries line up to receive vaccines from India despite their outstanding issues, foreign policy analysts believe it indicates the pragmatism that governs the bilateral interactions.

“Generally, all of the neighbors have their problems with India,” said Mohan, adding that New Delhi has something these countries need, and can take advantage of demand.

“It shows a new political will in New Delhi that whatever capabilities you have, they can be deployed smartly for diplomatic purposes.”

“This is something that has changed in the foreign office under the current leadership,” Mohan said. “When there’s an opportunity to do something good, you build some trust.”

Pakistan not interested

Pakistan, unsurprisingly, is not among the countries receiving COVID vaccine shipments from India.

In a press briefing, the Indian Foreign Ministry said that they had not received any requests from Pakistan seeking vaccine supplies.

Pakistan’s Foreign Office and Health Ministry did not respond to DW’s requests for comment.

The country started its vaccine campaign on February 3 after receiving half a million doses of the Sinopharm vaccine donated by its longtime ally China.

“It’s not that India excluded Pakistan. They don’t want to take vaccines from India,” Mohan said. “So many things have happened between the two countries that no Pakistani leader will ask India for help, even in the best of times,” he added.

Alternative to Chinese vaccines

India’s global vaccine distribution also seeks to offer the developing world an alternative to Chinese vaccines, which Beijing has been pushing in countries that cannot afford multibillion-dollar deals with pharmaceutical giants, or as an alternative in countries experiencing supply bottlenecks.

Over the past couple of decades, China has made significant inroads in smaller South Asian countries, which India views as part of its sphere of influence. Beijing has outspent New Delhi in trade, investment, and infrastructure.

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Vaccine production is one of the areas where India could still flex its muscles.

But the goodwill generated through this initiative is unlikely to make India’s neighbors more agreeable toward its interests.

“All this doesn’t mean that overnight everybody is going to love India.” Mohan said.

Source- dw.com
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WHO-UNICEF concern over “self-defeating strategy” that excludes 2.5 billion missing the corona vaccine

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By Neeraj Nanda

MELBOURNE, 11 February 2021: The WHO and the UNICEF have expressed grave concern over almost 130 countries, with 2.5 billion people being left out of the corona vaccine administered so far. The 128 million vaccine doses have been administered in just ten countries covering 60 percent of the global GDP.

A joint statement by UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore and WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus from New York and Geneva on 10 February 2021 says:

“As of today, almost 130 countries, with 2.5 billion people, are yet to administer a single dose.

“This self-defeating strategy will cost lives and livelihoods, give the virus further opportunity to mutate and evade vaccines, and will undermine a global economic recovery.

“Today, UNICEF and WHO – partners for more than 70 years – call on leaders to look beyond their borders and employ a vaccine strategy that can actually end the pandemic and limit variants.

“Health workers have been on the frontlines of the pandemic in lower- and middle-income settings and should be protected first so they can protect us.

“COVAX participating countries are preparing to receive and use vaccines. Health workers have been trained, cold chain systems primed. What’s missing is the equitable supply of vaccines.

“To ensure that vaccine rollouts begin in all countries in the first 100 days of 2021, it is imperative that:

·Governments that have vaccinated their own health workers and populations at highest risk of severe disease share vaccines through COVAX so other countries can do the same.

·The Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator, and its vaccines pillar COVAX, is fully funded so that financing and technical support is available to lower- and middle-income countries for deploying and administering vaccines. If fully funded, the ACT Accelerator could return up to US$ 166 for every dollar invested.

·Vaccine manufacturers allocate the limited vaccine supply equitably; share safety, efficacy, and manufacturing data as a priority with WHO for regulatory and policy review; step up and maximize production, and transfer technology to other manufacturers who can help scale the global supply.

“We need global leadership to scale up vaccine production and achieve vaccine equity.

“COVID-19 has shown that our fates are inextricably linked. Whether we win or lose, we will do so together.”

409,000 global malaria deaths in 2019

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Photos- WHO

By SAT News Desk

MELBOURNE, 30 November 2020: Globally, malaria deaths have reduced steadily over the period 2000–2019, from 736 000 in 2000 to 409 000 in 2019. The percentage of total malaria deaths among children aged under 5 years was 84% in 2000 and 67% in 2019. The global estimate of deaths in 2015, the GTS baseline, was about 453 000. This has been revealed in the just-released WHO World Malaria Report 2020.

Globally, there were an estimated 229 million malaria cases in 2019 in 87 malaria-endemic countries, declining from 238 million in 2000. At the Global technical strategy for malaria 2016–2030 (GTS) baseline of 2015, there were 218 million estimated malaria cases, the report says.

The 2020 edition of the World Malaria Report takes a historical look at key milestones that helped shape the global response to the disease over the last 2 decades – a period of unprecedented success in malaria control. The report features a detailed analysis of progress towards the 2020 milestones of WHO’s global malaria strategy and a special section on malaria and the COVID-19 pandemic.

As in past years, the report provides an up-to-date assessment of the burden of malaria at global, regional, and country levels. It tracks investments in malaria programs and research as well as progress across all intervention areas. This latest report draws on data from 87 countries and territories with ongoing malaria transmission.

The report is based on information received from national malaria control programs and other partners in 87 malaria-endemic countries; most of the data presented is from 2019.

Twenty-nine countries accounted for 95% of malaria cases globally. Nigeria (27%), the Democratic Republic of the Congo (12%), Uganda (5%), Mozambique (4%), and Niger (3%) accounted for about 51% of all cases globally. The WHO African Region, with an estimated 215 million cases in 2019, accounted for about 94% of the cases.

India contributed to the largest absolute reductions in the WHO South-East Asia Region, from about 20 million cases in 2000 to about 5.6 million in 2019. Sri Lanka was certified malaria-free in 2015, and Timor-Leste reported zero malaria cases in 2018 and 2019.

Eliminating malaria in all countries, especially those with a high disease burden, will likely require tools that are not available today. In September 2019, the WHO Director-General issued a “malaria challenge,” calling on the global health community to ramp up investment in the research and development of new malaria-fighting tools and approaches. This message was further reinforced in the April 2020 report of the WHO Strategic advisory group on malaria eradication.

You can also read the report in a double-page view.

WHO-Wikimedia to ensure trusted COVID-19 information

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By SAT News Desk

Geneva, Switzerland, 22 October 2020: A new step to fight the misinformation epidemic about COVID-19 is all set with the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Wikimedia Foundation, the nonprofit that administers Wikipedia, announcing today a collaboration to expand the public’s access to the latest and most reliable information about COVID-19.

The collaboration will make trusted, public health information available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike license at a time when countries face continuing resurgences of COVID-19 and social stability increasingly depends on the public’s shared understanding of the facts.

Through the collaboration, people everywhere will be able to access and share WHO infographics, videos, and other public health assets on Wikimedia Commons, a digital library of free images and other multimedia.

A WHO media release says, ” With these new freely-licensed resources, Wikipedia’s more than 250,000 volunteer editors can also build on and expand the site’s COVID-19 coverage, which currently offers more than 5,200 coronavirus-related articles in 175 languages. This WHO content will also be translated across national and regional languages through Wikipedia’s vast network of global volunteers.”

“Equitable access to trusted health information is critical to keeping people safe and informed during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organization. Our new collaboration with the Wikimedia Foundation will increase access to reliable health information from WHO across multiple countries, languages, and devices,” it adds.

Currently, readers can access WHO’s myth-busting series of infographics on Wikimedia Commons. The infographics, which focus on addressing common misconceptions about COVID-19, are also available for Wikipedia editors to incorporate into Wikipedia articles.

In the coming months, the Wikimedia Foundation and WHO will continue uploading resources to Wikimedia Commons and collaborating with Wikipedia volunteer editors to better understand gaps in information needs on Wikipedia articles related to COVID-19 and how WHO resources can help fill these gaps.

Additionally, under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike license, other organizations, individuals, and websites can more easily share these materials on their own platforms without having to address stricter copyright restrictions.

WHO myth-busting series of infographics on Wikimedia Commons

Wikimedia Commons Main Page