UN calls for quantum leap in funding COVID-19 fight

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UNITED Nations yesterday called for an immediate “quantum leap” in funding for global programmes to combat the coronavirus and restore prosperity.

  UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, urged countries to find $15 billion over the next three months to fund the ACT-Accelerator programme, a global collaboration to hunt for a vaccine and treatments led by the UN’s World Health Organization (WHO).

  According to him, nearly $3 billion contributed so far had been critical for the initial phase since the accelerator’s launch four months ago, but $35 billion more was needed to shift from start-up to scale-up — beginning with $15 billion in the next three months.

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  “Either we stand together or we will be doomed. The virus is the number one global security threat. We need a quantum leap in funding to increase the chances of a global solution to get the world moving, working and prospering again. We cannot lose the window of opportunity”, Guterres said.

  He said typical aid budgets would not cover the costs, urging donors to “go deep” into money set aside for combating coronavirus.

  President of World Health Organisation (WHO), Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus hailed the speed at which vaccines, diagnostics and treatments for COVID-19 were being developed was “astonishing” but said more needed to be done.

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  “We need to rapidly scale up our clinical trials, manufacturing, licensing and regulation capacity so that these products can get to people and start saving lives,” he said.

  South Africa and Norway are co-chairing the ACT-Accelerator facilitation council.

  South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, who chairs the African Union, told the meeting that the continent should “not be left behind” once a viable vaccine is produced.

  Rwandan President Paul Kagame called the ACT-Accelerator “one of the most important international initiatives under way in the world today, and perhaps ever.”

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