ACT-Accelerator calls on G-7 to pay their fair share

The G-7 finance ministers pose for the traditional group photograph in the gardens of Lancaster House in London. Photo by: HM Treasury / CC BY-NC-ND

In the lead-up to the G-7 Cornwall Summit, members of the ACT-Accelerator are calling on the world’s richest nations to contribute their ‘fair share’ in financing efforts to increase equitable access to COVID-19 tests, treatments, and vaccines by the end of this month.

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The ACT-Accelerator is currently $18.1 billion underfunded which is hindering the distribution of personal protective equipment, diagnostics, therapeutics, and oxygen needed to control the COVID-19 pandemic as vaccines slowly trickle into countries.

The ACT-Accelerator’s Financing Working Group has developed a burden-sharing framework for governments as a way to “split the bill” on efforts to manage the pandemic.

It is based on countries contributing on their gross domestic product, income per capita, with an adjustment on how dependent economies are to global trade, said John-Arne Røttingen, the ambassador for global health for Norway, which is co-chair of the ACT-Accelerator Facilitation Council, during a press conference on Monday.

Only two countries in the G-7— Germany, and Canada — have contributed their share of funding based on the shared burden structure, while Italy, the United Kingdom, and the United States have contributed more than half of their determined contribution.

The remaining countries in the G-7 include Japan, which has contributed 16%, and France, which has contributed 15%. The ACT-Accelerator is also calling for wider contributions from the G-20, with hopes to receive these funds by the middle of this year, Røttingen said.

Key larger emerging countries — including China, Brazil, and Russia — have still not contributed financially to the ACT-Accelerator, he said.

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Over 2 billion doses have been administered globally, but less than 10 million have gone to low-income countries, equating to less than 0.5% of the vaccines administered, said Dr. Bruce Aylward, coordinator of the ACT-Accelerator. For diagnostics, there is a 100-fold difference between testing in high-income countries and low-income countries, he said, adding that we are “flying blind in much of the world.”

But financing is not going to solve the problem, because of the limited production of vaccines, he said. Because of this, the ACT-Accelerator is also calling on the G-7 countries to donate 1 billion doses by the end of the year with an initial 250 million doses to be donated by the end of September. But only about 150 million doses have been committed thus far, Aylward said.

“We need to double that in the next three months to catch up and get on track,” he said.

Countries the ACT-Accelerator is lobbying, in particular, include the U.S., European Union, the U.K., Canada, and Japan because these countries have large volumes of contracted doses that could be redirected, Aylward said.

Countries have been slow to donate because of their vaccine coverage goal for their own populations, challenges with unstable AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson supply chains, and concerns that new variants may require booster shots in the future, he said.

Update, June 8, 2021: This piece has been updated to clarify that the burden sharing criteria includes a nation’s gross domestic product.

About the author

  • Sara Jerving

    Sara Jerving is a global health reporter based in Nairobi. Her work has appeared in The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, Vice News, and Bloomberg News, among others. Sara holds a master's degree from Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism where she was a Lorana Sullivan fellow. She was a finalist for the Livingston Award for Young Journalists in 2018, part of a Vice News Tonight on HBO team that received an Emmy nomination in 2018 and received the Philip Greer Memorial Award from Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism in 2014. She has reported from over a dozen countries.