UN calls for 'quantum leap' in funding for coronavirus fight

GENEVA (AFP) – The United Nations on Thursday (Sept 10) 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 US$15 billion (S$20 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 Organisation (WHO).

“Either we stand together or we will be doomed,” Guterres told a virtual meeting of the ACT-Accelerator, calling the virus 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,” he said.

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

Without it, “we will 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 Covid-19.


The virus has killed more than 900,000 people and infected at least 27.9 million since the outbreak was first detected in China last December.

According to the WHO’s latest overview, 35 candidate vaccines for the virus are being tested on humans, of which nine have reached Phase III trials where they are tested on tens of thousands of people.

A further 145 candidate vaccines are in earlier testing phases.

Typically, only about 10 per cent of candidate vaccines succeed.

WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus hailed the speed at which vaccines, diagnostics and treatments for Covid-19 were being developed as “astonishing”, but said more needed to be done.

“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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