G20 nations must help plug a $4.5 billion funding gap for a WHO-led program to distribute coronavirus vaccines and pave the way for an end to the pandemic, a letter seen by AFP on Friday said.
The letter, sent ahead of this weekend’s virtual G20 summit, was signed by Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, World Health Organization (WHO) chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus and Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission.
“A commitment by G20 leaders at the G20 Summit in Riyadh to invest substantially in the ACT-Accelerator’s immediate funding gap of $4.5 billion will immediately save lives, lay the groundwork for mass procurement and delivery of Covid-19 tools around the world, and provide an exit strategy out of this global economic and human crisis,” the letter dated November 16 said.
“With this funding, and a joint commitment to spend a proportion of future stimulus on the Covid-19 tools needed globally, the G20 will build a foundation to end the pandemic,” added the letter addressed to King Salman of Saudi Arabia, the current G20 president.
ACT-Accelerator is an initiative led by the WHO that promotes an equitable distribution of Covid-19 vaccines, diagnostics, and treatments globally.
There was no immediate comment from G20 organisers in Riyadh.
Major pharmaceutical companies are now closing in on vaccines against the virus, amid a global spike in cases that have caused some countries to reimpose restrictions to curb transmission.
“The recent breakthroughs on Covid-19 vaccines offer a ray of hope” but they must “reach everyone”, UN chief Antonio Guterres said on Friday.