COVID-19: What may deny Nigeria, others from getting vaccine, kits – WHO

…As report predicts $466bn gain for US, UK, 8 others from investments in COVID-19 tools

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NIGERIA and other developing nations may face scarcity of tools needed to fight COVID-19 if the countries fail to raise US$ 4.3 billion urgently needed to fast-track critical work on kits needed to combat the pandemic.

The World Health Organization (WHO) said in a statement on its website, Thursday, that the Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator (ACT Accelerator), faced funding gap of US$ 28.2 billion.

“If that shortfall isn’t met, low- and low-middle income countries will have delayed access to these vital tools in 2021, which will result in a protracted pandemic, with severe economic consequences, not just for these countries by also for the wider global economy,” WHO said.

ACT Accelerator is a global collaboration to accelerate the development, production, and equitable access to COVID-19 tests, treatments, and vaccines. The initiative has the support of 189 countries.

The ACT Accelerator was set up in response to a call from G20 leaders in March 2020 and launched by the WHO, European Commission, France and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in April 2020.

A report by the Eurasia Group – the world’s leading global political risk research and consulting firm – quoted by the WHO, indicated that global equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines would generate economic benefits of at least US$ 153 billion between 2020 and 21, as well as US$ 466 billion by 2025 in 10 major economies.

The countries are Canada, France, Germany, Japan, Qatar, South Korea, Sweden, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom and the United States.

$2.4 billion had been contributed by the 10 countries, with the United Kingdom committing over US$ 1 billion, and Germany, Canada, Japan and France providing US$ 618 million, US$ 290 million, US$ 229 million and US$ 147 million respectively, according to the health agency.

As vaccine candidates are undergoing trials, and the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine got endorsement of, and immediate order for procurement of 40 million doses by the United Kingdom last Wednesday, WHO quoted the report as urging world leaders, which hold high-level Special Session in response to COVID-19 pandemic between December 3 and 4 that leaving low and lower-middle-income countries without access to vaccines amid the COVID-19 pandemic would cause significant economic damage that puts decades of economic progress at risk – for both low and lower-middle-income countries and advanced economies alike.

“The report, which was commissioned by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, finds that the economic benefits of a global equitable vaccine solution alone for the 10 countries included in the analysis would be at least US$ 153 billion in 2020-21, rising to US$ 466 billion by 2025.

“This is more than 12 times the US$ 38 billion estimated total cost of the ACT Accelerator. This figure was compiled using the expected negative effects of sustained coronavirus outbreaks in LLMICs, based on the downside and baseline scenarios of the IMF’s October 2020 World Economic Outlook forecasts.

It quoted WHO Director-General, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, as calling on countries to commit to the work of the ACT Accelerator, adding that “the ACT Accelerator is the global solution to ending the acute phase of the pandemic as quickly as possible by ensuring equitable access to COVID-19 tools. Contributing to the ACT Accelerator it is not just the right thing to do – it’s the smart thing for all countries – socially, economically and politically.”

Managing Director for Global Strategy at Eurasia Group and one of the authors of the report, Alexander Kazan said: “There is a clear humanitarian and ethical case for supporting the ACT Accelerator and the Covax facility, along with the obvious economic gains it would bring to developing countries; doing nothing risks reversing years if not decades of economic progress. But our analysis shows that the program is likely to yield economic and other returns for major donor countries as well. The ACT Accelerator is a unique opportunity to save lives and repair, global economy and build diplomatic capital that will last a generation.”

Deputy Director at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Hassan Damluji, was also quoted to have said of the findings of the report: “The moral case for an equitable global solution to the COVID-19 crisis has always been clear, but with high-income countries reeling from a huge shock, their governments are increasingly focusing on investments that can help their own economies to rebound. This report adds to the body of evidence that shows that the ACT Accelerator is precisely one of those investments. It is both the right thing to do and an investment that will pay dividends by bringing the global economy back from the brink, benefiting all nations.”


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