Global leaders unite to ensure everyone everywhere can access new vaccines, tests and treatments for COVID-19
May 1, 2020
Global Korean Post
Heads of state and global health leaders today made an unprecedented commitment to work together to accelerate the development and production of new vaccines, tests and treatments for COVID-19 and assure equitable access worldwide.
The COVID-19 pandemic has already affected more than 2.4 million people, killing over 160,000. It is taking a huge toll on families, societies, health systems and economies around the world, and for as long as this virus threatens any country, the entire world is at risk.
There is an urgent need, therefore, while following existing measures to keep people physically distanced and to test and track all contacts of people who test positive, for innovative COVID-19 vaccines, diagnostics and treatments.
“We will only halt COVID-19 through solidarity,” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General. “Countries, health partners, manufacturers, and the private sector must act together and ensure that the fruits of science and research can benefit everybody.”
Work has already started. Since January, WHO has been working with researchers from hundreds of institutions to develop and test vaccines, standardize assays and standardize regulatory approaches on innovative trial designs and define criteria to prioritize vaccine candidates. The Organization has prequalified diagnostics that are being used all over the world, and more are in the pipeline. And it is coordinating a global trial to assess the safety and efficacy of four therapeutics against COVID-19.
The challenge is to speed up and harmonize processes to ensure that once products are deemed safe and effective, they can be brought to the billions of people in the world who need them. Past experience, in the early days of HIV treatment, for example, and in the deployment of vaccines against the H1N1 outbreak in 2009, shows that even when tools are available, they have not been equally available to all.