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United Nations chief asks individuals and nations to contribute $35bn for WHO's initiatives to fight Covid-19

United Nations Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, has called for a “quantum leap in funding” for the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) initiative to speed up the development of COVID-19 vaccine.

The UN Chief said as much as $35bn would be needed in order to efficiently fund the fight against COVID-19.

According to Guterres, the funding project, known as the Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator (ACT), has received 3 billion dollars.

The initiative, which was launched at a Brussels donor conference in May, advocates for the fair distribution of future vaccines and medications to developing as well as developed countries.

ACT also takes funds from major philanthropic health funds such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, as well as the Britain-based Wellcome Trust.

“But we now need 35 billion dollars more to go from ‘start-up’ to ‘scale-up and impact,’” the United Nations chief told an online meeting of the ACT facilitation council on Thursday afternoon, September 10.

“There is real urgency in these numbers – without an infusion of 15 billion dollars over the next three months, beginning immediately, we will lose the window of opportunity to further advance research, build stocks in parallel with licensing, start procuring and delivering the new diagnostics and therapeutics.

“And help countries prepare to optimise the new vaccines when they arrive,” he said.

Guterres also noted a “worrying trend of numerous parallel initiatives and nationally focused efforts that would not only be undermining an effective global response, it would be self-defeating.”

“No one and no country will be safe until everybody is safe,” he said.

Meanwhile, The United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) has urged African countries not to “lose sight” of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Mr Stephen Karingi, The United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA0) Director, Regional Integration, Infrastructure and Trade Division UNECA, made the call during the presentation of an ECA report tagged: “Facilitating Cross-Border Trade and Transport amid COVID-19’’ on Thursday.

Karingi, said the pandemic was an opportunity to overcome long-standing cross-border trade challenges and would help member states identify areas that needed strengthening to boost intra-African trade.

He said that combating the virus required regional coordinated actions to contain the its spread at the same time as facilitate safe cross-border trade.

“By magnifying Africa’s cross-border inefficiencies, the COVID-19 crisis presents an opportunity to reinvigorate efforts targeted at overcoming long-standing challenges.

“This has increased the urgency to do better and find innovative solutions to facilitate safe and efficient cross-border trade.

“It will be important for Africa to maintain and upgrade these solutions post COVID-19 to lower trade costs, boost competitiveness and support more resilient cross-border trade in the face of future shocks,” he said .

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