The World Health Organization on Wednesday renewed its appeal to high-income countries to stump up $16 billion for its program to give lower- and middle-income nations equal access to vaccines, treatments, and personal protective equipment.

The ACT-Accelerator is asking donor countries to contribute $16.8 billion of the $23.4 billion total budget in immediate grant funding for October 2021 to September 2022, said the WHO.

“The rapid spread of omicron makes it even more urgent to ensure tests, treatments and vaccines are distributed equitably globally,” said WHO Director-General Tedros Ghebreyesus in a statement.

“If higher-income countries pay their fair share of the ACT-Accelerator costs, the partnership can support low- and middle-income countries to overcome low COVID-19 vaccination levels, weak testing, and medicine shortages.”

He said science had given the world tools to fight COVID-19, and if they are shared globally, the world can reach its goal of ending the pandemic as a global health emergency this year.

WHO said only $814 million of the $16.8 billion has been pledged so far.

The ACT-Accelerator initiative works to overcome vast global inequities by providing low- and middle-income countries with access to COVID-19 tests, treatments, vaccines, and personal protective equipment.

The accelerator agencies urgently need new funding to scale up their work to develop and deliver the COVID-19 countermeasures essential to address the threat of omicron and prevent even more dangerous variants from emerging.

New financing framework

WHO said a diverse group of governments has agreed on a new financing framework developed to support the ACT-Accelerator, making “fair share” requests to more affluent countries.

“Supporting the rollout of tools to fight COVID-19 globally will help to curb virus transmission, break the cycle of variants, relieve overburdened health workers and systems, and save lives,” said the WHO.

“With every month of delay, the global economy stands to lose almost four times the investment the ACT-Accelerator needs.”

According to the WHO, the ACT-Accelerator is the only global, end-to-end solution to the pandemic, supporting access to COVID-19 tests, treatments, and vaccines from research to rollout.

The initiative is structured around diagnostics, therapeutics, and vaccines.

The main partners of the ACT-Accelerator are: WHO, CEPI (Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations), FIND, Gavi, the Global Fund, UNICEF, Unitaid, Wellcome, the World Bank, and The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

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