September 15, 2020 10:44:14 pm
Researchers are very close to developing a safe and effective coronavirus vaccine, but breakthrough science must be met by breakthrough generosity, stated a new report by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
“We need leaders in government and the pharmaceutical industry to ensure that everyone, regardless of where they live, can access these vaccines. And we’re hopeful that will happen,” stated the Foundation in its fourth annual Goalkeepers Report, released on Tuesday.
The report features new data showing how the ripple effects of Covid-19 have stopped 20 years of progress toward the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
In the report, the Foundation called on the world to collaborate on the development of diagnostics, vaccines, and treatment; manufacture tests and doses as quickly as possible; and deliver these tools equitably based on need rather than the ability to pay.
It pointed out that there are currently several viable strategies to help achieve an equitable outcome, including the Access to Covid-19 Tools Accelerator, the most serious collaborative effort to end the pandemic, which brings together organisations like Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.
“The response to the pandemic has shown us some of the best of humanity: pathbreaking innovation, heroic acts by frontline workers, and ordinary people doing the best they can for their families, neighbours, and communities… This is a shared global crisis that demands a shared global response,” write Bill and Melinda Gates.
The report makes it clear that no single country will be able to meet this challenge alone. Any attempts by one country to protect itself while neglecting others will only prolong the hardships caused by the pandemic. Developing and manufacturing vaccines will not end the pandemic quickly unless they are delivered equitably, warned the report.
The report also provides the most current global data set for how the pandemic is affecting progress toward the Global Goals. It shows that by nearly every indicator, the world has regressed. Because of Covid-19, extreme poverty has increased by 7 per cent.
Vaccine coverage, a good proxy measure for how health systems are functioning, is dropping to levels last seen in the 1990s, setting the world back about 25 years in 25 weeks.
The report also pointed out that economic damage from Covid-19 is reinforcing inequalities. Around the world, women are facing an increased burden from rising demands in total unpaid care work and experiencing the majority of job losses.
According to modeling from Northeastern University, if rich countries buy up the first 2 billion doses of the vaccine instead of making sure they are distributed equitably, then almost twice as many people could die from Covid-19.
However, Bill and Melinda Gates describe a path to ending the pandemic and resuming progress toward Global Goals.
Despite these constraints, countries are innovating to meet the challenges. More candidates for vaccines and therapeutics are being developed faster than ever.
Pandemic-focused innovations include contact tracing in Vietnam and pooled testing in Ghana, while new or improved digital cash transfer programmes are reaching 1.1 billion people in 138 countries.
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