By Pepi Sappal • 24 April 2020 • 21:36
SPAIN’S President Pedro Sánchez and several other heads of state have given their full backing and support to the World Health Organisation (WHO), pledging to work together to combat Covid-19.
Sánchez, along with other heads of states and global organisations, made an unprecedented commitment today to work together to accelerate the development and production of new vaccines, tests and treatments for Covid-19. They also want to ensure equitable access worldwide through the launch of WHO’s Access to Covid-19 Tools Accelerator programme.
“My country is fully committed to the leadership and central role of WHO in dealing with the global efforts to fight Covid-19 and find a cure for the pandemic,” stated Sanchez.
In his speech today at the WHO virtual meeting, he agreed that a cure must be made accessible to everyone. “No one should be left behind. We must move away from fragmented efforts to collaborate ones.” Partnerships are the best way as no individual company, government or organisation can succeed alone, he said. “Spain stands with you and you can count on our full support.”
WHO has been working with researchers from hundreds of institutions to develop and test vaccines, standardise regulatory approaches/trials and define criteria to prioritise vaccine candidates. It has also prequalified diagnostics that are being used all over the world, and is coordinating a global trial to assess the safety and efficacy of four therapeutics against Covid-19.
The challenge is to speed up and harmonise 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.
“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.”
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. “Our shared commitment is to ensure all people have access to all the tools to prevent, detect, treat and defeat Covid-19,” said Dr Tedros. “No country and no organisation can do this alone. The Access to Covid-19 Tools Accelerator brings together the combined power of several organisations to work with speed and scale.”
Other leaders that came together at a virtual event, (co-hosted by WHO, the President of the European Commission and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation) included the heads of state of France, South Africa, Germany, Vietnam, Costa Rica, Italy, Rwanda, Norway, Malaysia and the UK. The UN Secretary General, the AU Commission Chairperson, the G20 President and presidents of several pharma organisations also attended.
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