The global pandemic poses an unprecedented threat. The death toll is devastating. Equally devastating are the economic, social and human consequences. Ultimately, we might be facing a security crisis. Emerging variants of the virus are heightening uncertainty and underscoring the need for an effective, inclusive and global response.
The ACT-Accelerator is a unique global collaboration of public and private stakeholders. It aims at accelerating the development, production and equitable access to COVID-19 tests, treatments, and vaccines. It is our only comprehensive global instrument to expedite the end of the pandemic.
As Co-chairs of the ACT-A Facilitation Council, Norway and South Africa’s goal is to make it an end-to-end solution to control the COVID-19 pandemic in the fastest way possible to restore social and economic activity.
The ACT-A partnership has already produced extraordinary results. At an unprecedented speed, it has contributed to the development of several different vaccines and rapid tests. Its vaccine pillar COVAX has secured nearly two billion doses of different vaccine candidates. More than 330 million doses are planned to reach 145 countries by July.
The key obstacle is funding. To end the pandemic we need to fully finance the ACT Accelerator. The funding gap for 2021 is US$ 22.3 billion. That is a lot of money. But not if compared to what is spent on stimulus packages, combined with the economic loss resulting from the crisis.
Therefore, President Ramaphosa of South Africa and Prime Minister Solberg of Norway as ACT-A Co-chairs have sent letters to their counterparts in 89 high- and middle-income countries encouraging them to contribute their share of the necessary resources needed for the ACT-A.
Vaccine equity means we must ensure that the post-pandemic recovery is non-discriminating and gender-sensitive. Only then can we make certain that no one is left behind.
We are in the midst of responding to the pandemic. But we should not lose sight of the longer-term perspective. We must learn from this crisis and establish more inclusive, resilient and effective emergency and response systems for the future.