The UN Secretary-General has told a G20 summit that a global scheme to make COVID-19 vaccines and therapeutics affordable and accessible to anyone, anywhere, who needs them – is running short of money.
The leaders who participated in the G20 summit, hosted online this year by Saudi Arabia, collectively represent around 80 per cent of the world’s economic output and 75 per cent of international trade. The summit took place this weekend and was also attended by Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame.
Although countries have so far invested $10 billion in the Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator and its vaccine pillar, the COVAX Facility, they are still underfunded.
Some $28 billion more is needed, including $4.2 billion before the end of the year, according to António Guterres.
“This funding is critical for mass manufacturing, procurement and delivery of new COVID-19 vaccines and tools around the world”, he said. “G20 countries have the resources.”
He added that the UN is also working to combat damaging vaccine myths, conspiracies and other misinformation on social media, in efforts to strengthen public trust and save lives.
At the same time as the UN is looking for money to make the vaccine available to all, a study by Duke University showed poor countries will get the vaccines in 2024.
Meanwhile, in the United States, distribution of the first vaccines will begin on December 11, according to WARP SPEED, the agency set up to work on an emergency distribution system.
By mid next year, the entire population of the U.S will have been vaccinated against the virus.
Averting a ‘debt pandemic’
With the pandemic putting developing countries “on the precipice of financial ruin and escalating poverty, hunger and untold suffering”, the Secretary-General also appealed for stepped-up support from the G20.
He called for the bloc to increase financial resources available to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), including through a new allocation of Special Drawing Rights, which are a type of supplementary reserve asset that can boost liquidity during crises.
The G20 also has suspended debt service payments from more than 70 of the world’s poorest countries through June 2021, among other welcoming measures. However, the UN chief wants leaders to do more.
“I am pushing for a further extension through the end of 2021 and, critically, to expand the scope of the initiatives to all developing and middle-income countries in need”, he said.