Maintaining the momentum for pandemic response and Prioritizing Preparedness
On May 12, under the leadership of the United States, Belize, Germany, Indonesia, and Senegal, global leaders from across the world’s economies, civil society, and the private sector gathered for the 2nd Global COVID-19 Summit. Summit participants made major new policy and financial commitments to make vaccines available to those at highest risk, to expand access to tests and treatments, and to prevent future health crises. These are linked here. Success in these areas is achievable, but it is not inevitable; leaders reinforced the value of whole-of-government and whole-of-society approaches to bring the acute phase of COVID-19 to an end, and the importance of being prepared for future pandemic threats. The Summit was focused on preventing complacency, recognizing the pandemic is not over; protecting the most vulnerable, including the elderly, immunocompromised people, and frontline and health workers; and preventing future health crises, recognizing now is the time to secure political and financial commitment for pandemic preparedness.
The Summit catalyzed bold commitments. Financially, leaders committed to provide $3.2 billion in new funding – additional to previous 2022 pledges, while acknowledging the need is still great. This includes nearly $2.5 billion for COVID-19 and related response activities and $712 million in new commitments toward a new pandemic preparedness and global health security fund at the World Bank. (Note: This builds on $250 million previously pledged for this fund.) These funds will accelerate access to vaccinations, testing, and treatments, and they will contribute to a new pandemic preparedness and global health security fund housed at the World Bank. Leaders also made robust national commitments to expand and accelerate vaccine coverage, in particular for their at-risk populations; to expand access to testing and treatments; to protect and support the health workforce and increase domestic budgets for health systems strengthening; and to advance health security, including through the new fund.
World leaders identified three major Summit outcomes.
- Prioritizing the highest risk populations to save lives. First, great progress has been made in fighting COVID-19, but the pandemic is not over and the next health crisis can strike at any time – likely while the world is still battling COVID-19. Summit participants committed to double down on their collective efforts to control COVID-19, and we will enhance our focus on the highest risk populations, including the elderly, the immunocompromised, and healthcare and frontline workers – so that SARS-CoV-2 becomes a manageable respiratory pathogen everywhere.
- Expanding access to countermeasures– for COVID-19 and future threats. Second, the pandemic has led to major advances in developing and delivering life-saving vaccines, tests, treatments, personal protective equipment, and other supplies. Participants especially expressed support for the ACT-Accelerator, as the multilateral mechanism deploying these needed supplies. And yet, the pandemic also underscored major longstanding inequities in access to new countermeasures, especially for low- and lower middle-income countries. Summit participants committed to finding sustainable and predictable solutions for early warning systems and to developing a cohesive global roadmap for local and regional access to medical countermeasures, personal protective equipment, and other lifesaving supplies for potentially pandemic diseases, as well as expanding access to manufacturing and research, including the concept of regional hubs for pandemic preparedness and response around the world.
- Maintaining the momentum for pandemic response and prioritizing preparedness. Finally, no country was fully prepared for the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result, over 6 million people around the world have lost their lives, trillions of dollars have been lost from the global economy, and gains in global health and towards the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) have been reversed. Summit participants committed to maintain the political will needed to establish national, regional, and global capacity for health security and pandemic prevention, preparedness, and response, including for training a strong network of experts to ensure readiness for future outbreaks with pandemic potential. They supported the efforts of the G20 and other partners to establish a pandemic preparedness and global health security fund housed at the World Bank, working in close cooperation with WHO, and they committed to support locally-led solutions to expand and protect the health workforce and minimize disruptions to routine and essential health services.
Vaccinate the World: Getting Vaccines to the Most Vulnerable
Many countries have made great strides toward meeting the 70% global vaccination target set by the World Health Organization. Since the first Summit, the world’s vaccination rate has increased from 33% to nearly 60%, and lower-middle income countries have risen from 13% to over 50%. However, low income countries are struggling, and our strategy must continue to evolve with the virus. The global effort must focus on populations at highest risk of hospitalization and mortality, including the elderly, immunocompromised people, and healthcare and other frontline workers. World leaders must take action, now, to build, coordinate, and finance the national, regional, and global systems and expert networks required to control COVID-19 so that it becomes a manageable respiratory illness – including predictable and equitable access to safe and effective pandemic vaccines for all countries.
Leaders from government and civil society joined this session, which was co-hosted by His Excellency Abdoulaye Diouf Sarr, Minister of Health and Social Action, Senegal; Her Excellency Annalena Baerbock, Foreign Minister of Germany; and Her Excellency Samantha Power, Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development. The speakers re-emphasized the value of safe and effective vaccines for bringing the acute phase of COVID-19 to an end. The speakers discussed new commitments, challenges, and solutions for building the national, regional, and global systems needed to get vaccines to health and frontline workers, the elderly and immunocompromised, and in humanitarian settings. In particular, they discussed new policy commitments to help overcome local barriers to vaccine access and uptake, as well as financial commitments to expand and sustain access, country by country, everywhere in the world. They also discussed commitments to developing, financing, and sustaining systems for producing and supplying vaccines for COVID-19 variants and future health emergencies, including national and regional access to vaccines and predictable access, scaling, and surge supply. Leaders highlighted the need for robust and sustained donor attention to vaccine administration for COVID-19 and a more coordinated, country-by-country approach to getting vaccinations to those most at risk in communities. They also called for [and committed to] developing a cohesive roadmap for local and regional access to vaccines for future variants and pandemics. The session also highlighted bold commitments from governments to get boosters to their populations, launch vaccination campaigns to reach high risk populations and children, and to accelerate vaccination coverage in their domestic populations. Non-governmental leaders also pledged to work toward sustained access to vaccine availability, as well as plans to scale up and provide open-source results of research and development to inform COVID-19 vaccination strategies in low- and lower-middle income countries, including on boosters and mix-and-match vaccination strategies.
Save Lives Now: Expanding Access to Tests and Treatments
Ending the acute phase of the COVID-19 pandemic and ensuring that COVID-19 becomes a treatable respiratory disease will require enhancing predictable and equitable access to rapid testing and to lifesaving treatments. While the COVID-19 pandemic has catalyzed great advances in diagnostic testing and new therapeutics, such as oral antivirals, there is not yet a sustainable supply of these lifesaving interventions nor a sustainable system for targeting these interventions to those facing the highest risk of hospitalization and mortality, including the elderly, immunocompromised people, as well as healthcare and other frontline workers. In addition, access to and provision of oxygen needs to be increased. Moreover, testing and diagnostics is crucial to enable genetic sequencing and to monitor the emergence of new virus variants. This means that world leaders must take actions, now, to solve persistent challenges in the sustainable and scaled production, delivery, and market demand for tests and treatments, by incentivizing market shaping commitments and advancing platforms for advanced purchases of tests and treatments; lowering production costs, facilitating manufacturing of antiviral inputs, including Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients, and developing national plans for testing and treatment.
Leaders from government and civil society joined this session, which was co-hosted by His Excellency Kevin Bernard, Minister of Health and Wellness of Belize, and Her Excellency Svenja Schulze, Federal Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development of Germany, and His Excellency Xavier Becerra, Secretary of Health and Human Services of the United States. Speakers acknowledged the work of existing global efforts, such as ACT-Accelerator, and the importance of fully funding them, to enable the delivery of tests and treatment to people who need them. Speakers emphasized the importance of targeting testing and treatment to those at highest risk of hospitalization and death around the world. Specifically, they discussed the need for country strategies and financing to enhance access to molecular diagnostics and rapid tests, as well as treatments, including oral antivirals and oxygen. They committed to work nationally and globally to overcome local barriers and to pilot test-to-treat strategies. While progress is being made with the Medicines Patent Pool, leaders underscored the importance of long-term access and affordable pricing for affordable, safe, effective and quality medications, including antiviral medications, including the need for closer partnerships between producers, generic manufacturers, and regulators.
Build Better Health Security: Preventing Future Health Crises
No country in the world was well-prepared for the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result, the pandemic remains an ongoing global catastrophe that has cost millions of lives, unwound decades of gains in global health and development, and decreased national and regional resilience to shocks. The time is now to create the national, regional, and global capacity needed to prepare for future variants and the next health emergency, which could come at any time. To reduce the world’s vulnerability to future pandemics, the WHO’s Independent Panel for Pandemic Preparedness and Response and the G20’s High Level Independent Panel made a number of action-oriented recommendations in early 2021, including to establish a new Financial Intermediary Fund (FIF) for pandemic preparedness [and global health security]. This recommendation has since been amplified by the World Health Organization Director General and Indonesian G20 Presidency, as well as prominent and expert organizations and individuals from around the world.
Leaders from government and civil society joined this session, which was co-hosted by His Excellency Budi Gunadi Sadikin, Minister of Health of Indonesia, and by His Excellency Antony Blinken, Secretary of State of the United States. This session discussed the need for country capacity, sustainable financing, and a strong health workforce to strengthen health security and health systems – for COVID-19 variants and for future health emergencies. Specifically, speakers discussed exciting new financial commitments and momentum, including work in support of the G20’s Finance and Health Taskforce, to establish a new pandemic preparedness and global health security financial intermediary fund at the World Bank in the next few months, in close cooperation with the WHO and other international partners. Speakers also called for the support of initiatives to strengthen global health governance, especially at the WHO, through amendments of the International Health Regulations and a new international instrument on pandemic prevention, preparedness, and response.
Speakers also emphasized new commitments to expand and protect the health workforce, including by increasing training on infection prevention and control and providing personal protective equipment. Speakers also highlighted the need for current and future policy and financial commitments to ensure that every country has the needed capacity to mitigate COVID-19 variants and future health threats and pandemics. Speakers highlighted commitments to expanding and improving laboratory capacities. Speakers also reiterated the need to generate and sustain local and regional access to medical countermeasures and personal protective equipment, including through research and development and by scaling and diversifying local and regional manufacturing globally. Leaders underscored the need to build a strong network of experts to ensure readiness for future outbreaks with pandemic potential. Discussions also highlighted the need for a robust global plan for a timely and seamless transition from ACT-A to future approaches and instruments.