WHO: US$ 28 bn needed to fight coronavirus | Daily News


WHO: US$ 28 bn needed to fight coronavirus

WHO DG Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus
WHO DG Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus

WHO publishes a consolidated investment case for three pillars of the Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator initiative, which finds that the international community still must raise $27.9 billion of the $31.3 billion needed over the next 12-18 months to ensure the development and delivery of critical tools in the fight against COVID-19.

The amount covers investment needs for COVID-19 diagnostics, vaccines, and therapeutics. It does not yet include estimates for the health systems connector pillar of the initiative, which is meant to ensure that all tools developed will be efficiently deployed in countries.

Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, special envoy for the initiative, says in a press briefing that the amounts needed are huge, but “they are not when we think of the alternative. … If we spend billions now, we’ll be able to avoid spending trillions later.”

June 25 — The African Union hosts a virtual conference focused on the role that the continent hopes to play in the development, production, and distribution of future Coronavirus vaccines. Some of the challenges identified by African leaders include raising funds to pay for vaccines, strengthening local manufacturing, increasing the number of local clinical trials, and ensuring communities actually want to be vaccinated.

Africa is “no longer the WHO region least-affected by COVID-19” as of this week, says WHO Africa Regional Director Matshidiso Moeti, as COVID-19 cases on the continent have surpassed 300,000 with over 8,000 deaths. In some African countries, more than 5% of infections have been among health care workers, she adds.

June 24 — A report from The Global Fund to Fight AIDs, Tuberculosis and Malaria finds that in the countries it invests in, about $28.5 billion is needed over the next year to adapt HIV, TB, and malaria programming to “mitigate the impact of COVID-19, to train and protect health workers, to reinforce systems for health … and to respond to COVID-19 itself, particularly through testing, tracing and isolation and by providing treatments as they become available.” This estimate does not include the costs related to a potential vaccine.

According to the report, deaths from HIV, TB, and malaria could double over the next year if health systems are overwhelmed, treatment and prevention programs are disrupted, and resources are pulled away from fighting these three diseases.

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus says the world needs 620,000 cubic meters of oxygen per day, or about 88,000 large cylinders, as new COVID-19 cases now number 1 million a week. WHO expects COVID-19 cases to total 10 million globally within the next week.

But many countries are facing challenges in obtaining oxygen concentrators, with 80% of the market owned by a few companies, Tedros says during Wednesday’s press briefing. In recent weeks, WHO has been able to buy 14,000 oxygen concentrators to be sent to 120 countries, and Tedros says a further 170,000 concentrators have been identified that can be available over the next six months.

The epidemic in the Americas in general is “still intense,” with many countries experiencing a rise in cases ranging from 25% to 50% over the last week, says Dr. Michael Ryan, executive director of WHO’s emergencies program. He says the pandemic in many countries in the region “has not peaked.”

June 23 — A report from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization finds that 40% of low- and lower-middle income countries have not supported disadvantaged students during school shutdowns from COVID-19.

June 22 — Preliminary data from a U.K. trial that shows that the steroid dexamethasone has the potential to save the lives of critically ill COVID-19 patients, but the next challenge is increasing production and distribution of the drug, Tedros says during a press conference. Demand has already surged for the drug, he adds, but it is an inexpensive drug and many manufacturers already make it globally.

"It is also important to check that suppliers can guarantee quality, as there is a high risk of substandard or falsified products entering the market," he says.

Thailand reports three imported cases of COVID-19 and has had 28 days without local transmission.

Globally, confirmed cases of COVID-19 surpass 9 million. This comes just a week after the caseload hit 8 million.

June 21 — COVID-19 deaths surpass 50,000 in Brazil.

June 19 — The pandemic is in a “new and dangerous phase,” as many people are tired of staying home and governments are eager to reopen their economies, but the virus is spreading fast and most people globally are still susceptible to contracting it, Tedros says during a press conference.

COVID-19 cases in Brazil reach over 1 million. The country reports over 54,000 cases in one day.

June 18 — A study published in Nature Medicine finds that the levels of antibodies in recovered COVID-19 patients declines significantly two to three months after infection, which calls into question the length of immunity that survivors have against contracting the virus again.

Lower-income countries in Asia will “barely grow” in 2020, the Asian Development Bank says as it revises its growth forecast for the region to 0.1%, down from April’s forecast of 2.2%. This would be the slowest growth the region has experienced since 1961, according to the bank.

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