'Vast' gap in funding needed to fight the coronavirus, WHO warns

  • The World Health Organization warned Monday of a huge gap in funding to help fight the coronavirus pandemic.
  • WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said there was a "vast global gap" between the organization's ambition for a fund to tackle the virus and the funds already pledged to fight it.

The head of the World Health Organization warned Monday of a huge gap in funding to help fight the coronavirus pandemic.

WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said there was a "vast global gap" between the organization's ambition for a fund, known as the "Access to Covid-19 Tools Accelerator" (or ACT-Accelerator), and the funds already pledged to fight the virus.

"We have to fundamentally scale up the way we are financing the ACT-Accelerator and prioritize the use of new tools," Tedros said at the global health body's latest media briefing in Geneva.

"While we're grateful for those that have made contributions, we're only 10% of the way to funding the billions required to realize the promise of the ACT Accelerator," he said.

The ACT Accelerator was launched in April 2020 and is attempting to bring together governments, health organizations, scientists, businesses and philanthropists to speed up an end to the pandemic by supporting the development and distribution of the diagnostics, vaccines and treatments needed.

The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), which is tracking the amount of money pledged globally to fight the virus, including funding under the ACT Accelerator initiative, says that $9.9 billion has been pledged to date.

Tedros said that the funding needed for vaccines alone was over $100 billion. While a lot of money, the figure was "small in comparison to the 10 trillion dollars that have already been invested by G-20 countries in fiscal stimulus to deal with the consequences of the pandemic so far," he said.

Tedros said the total number of registered coronavirus cases worldwide would hit 20 million this week (to date, the number of cases stands at 19,877,261). The number of confirmed fatalities stands at 731,570, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

Acknowledging the suffering caused by the pandemic, Tedros said there were "green shoots of hope," nonetheless.

"No matter where a country, a region, a city or a town is — it's never too late to turn the outbreak around," Tedros told the news briefing. 

"There are two essential elements to addressing the pandemic effectively: Leaders must step up to take action and citizens need to embrace new measures," he said, emphasizing that the best way to beat the virus was to suppress it.

"My message is crystal clear: suppress, suppress, suppress the virus."

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