Pandemic : WHO is mobilizing the world to universal access to vaccines

Pandémie : l’OMS mobilise le monde pour un accès universel aux vaccins

Geneva | many countries and economic actors in private are committed Friday to mobilise alongside the world health Organization (WHO) to accelerate the production of vaccines, treatments and diagnostic tests against the new coronavirus, and ensure equitable access.

This initiative presented during a virtual press conference brings together many countries, including France and Germany, international organizations, private sector companies, as well as the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation, one of the first funders of the WHO.

“This is a historic collaboration to accelerate the development, the production and the equitable distribution of vaccines, diagnostics, and treatments against COVID-19”, explained the boss of the world Organization of health, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

“Our shared commitment is to ensure that all have access to all the instruments to overcome the COVID-19”, he added.

Specifically, no details have been given on the mechanism of co-operation supposed to be put in place in the framework of this initiative. “The challenge is to accelerate and harmonise the process, to ensure that, once the products have been deemed safe and effective, they can be distributed to billions of people around the world in need,” said WHO in a press release.

In the financial component, the president of the european Commission Ursula von der Leyen will oversee the 4 may, a donors ‘ conference whose objective is to raise 7.5 billion euros.

Interventions were also made by the French president Emmanuel Macron, the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, the heads of the governments of italy Giuseppe Conte and Spanish Pedro Sanchez.

Or China, where the first cases of the novel coronavirus have been announced at the end of December, or in the United States, now the epicenter of the pandemic, with nearly 900 000 cases, including more than 50 000 have so far been fatal, were represented.

While Washington accuses Beijing of being late to prevent the rest of the world the emergence of the new coronavirus, Emmanuel Macron said he hoped the “reconcile” around this initiative. “The fight against the COVID-19 is a common good of humanity”, he said.

To date, the pandemic has claimed over 190 000 lives in the world and 2.7 million people have been officially contaminated, according to the counting of the AFP.

“A vaccine for all”

To overcome this pandemic requires “effort of public health the most massive of history”, for its part, has accused the secretary general of the united Nations, Antonio Guterres.

“The world needs to develop, produce and ensure an equitable distribution” of vaccines and treatments when they become available, “not a vaccine or treatment for a country or a region or a half of the world – but a vaccine and a treatment that is affordable, safe, effective, that we can easily manage and available universally – to all people, everywhere”, he insisted.

The concern arises in particular in the poorest countries who do not have the financial means to compete with the richest in the race for the acquisition of the stocks of vaccines, drugs or diagnostic kits.

This inequality in access has already encountered on the occasion of previous epidemics, such as at the beginning of the epidemic of V. I. H. and that of the H1N1 virus in 2009, and “we can’t accept this happening again” in the face of the current crisis, warned the boss of WHO.

In this regard, “Africa is extremely vulnerable to the ravages of the virus and needs all the support and assistance possible,” recalled the chairman of the african Union, the South African Cyril Ramaphosa.

The president of the Alliance for vaccine (Gavi), Seth Berkley, has pointed out that “without the vaccine, the COVID-19 will(it) ever defeated”.

During a press conference earlier on Friday he said he was “optimistic” on the prospects for developing a vaccine, while showing booked on the calendar.

“If we were really lucky,” a vaccine could reach the market in 12 or 18 months, whereas it takes several years of research, clinical trials and production in normal times, according to Seth Berkley.

“Some people had said at the beginning that it would be very hard to get there before 12 or 18 months, some today say by the end of the year, I want to believe in the solutions the more proactive”, for its part, said Emmanuel Macron.

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