The organisation’s chief, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, made the announcement during a meeting of the Group of 20 global leaders in Rome, arguing that the heads of state needed to pay up to help poorer countries still struggling to stop the virus.
According to The Straits Times, Dr Ghebreyesus said the funding would be used to secure Covid-19 vaccines, tests and treatments in an effort to prevent millions more deaths around the world.
He said the G20 leaders “have the ability to make the political and financial commitments that are needed to end this pandemic.”
“We are at a decisive moment, requiring decisive leadership to make the world safer,” he said.
Dr Ghebreyesus justified the cost by claiming that it “pales in comparison to the trillions of dollars in economic losses caused by the pandemic and the cost of stimulus plans to support national recoveries.”
As coronavirus rates dip in the US and other wealthy nations, poorer nations are still struggling without adequate access to vaccines, personal protective equipment, oxygen and treatments for those suffering from virus.
According to the WHO, only 0.4 per cent of tests and 0.5 per cent of vaccine doses distributed have gone to poor countries, which represent nine per cent of the global population.
Cyril Ramaphosa, the president of South Africa, reported that across the continent of Africa less than 10 per cent of the population has received a coronavirus vaccine.
“Nowhere is this inequity more apparent than on the African continent, where just eight per cent of the population has received a single dose of Covid-19 vaccine,” he said.
Only five of the countries on the continent are in position to meet the WHO’s year end goal of fully vaccinating 40 per cent of their populations.
A programme to distribute vaccines to poorer countries – Covax – was established by the WHO, but thus far it has fallen far below its projected goals. More than a billion doses of the vaccines have been pledged to Covax, but only 15 per cent have actually been donated.
To help bridge the gap between wealthy and poor countries’ access to vaccines, the WHO has established the Access to Covid Tools Accelerator. The ACT-A is intended to fast-track the development, production and distribution of methods to combat the virus.
“Fully funding the ACT-Accelerator is a global health security imperative for us all - the time to act is now,” Dr Ghebreyesus said.
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