Opinion: Leaders — build on successful pledging effort and go bolder

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Ursula von der Leyen (right), president of the European Commission, and Charles Michel (left), President of the European Council, at a press conference on the European Union’s response to the COVID-19 crisis. Photo by: John Thys / Pool via REUTERS

Dear leaders,

Accelerating the end to COVID-19 and preventing further pandemics demands a bold, inclusive, and comprehensive global action plan. With tremendous uncertainty around when this pandemic will end, we have to tackle these challenges — emergency response and long-term prevention — together.

The May 4 pledging conference led by the European Commission was a critical display of global solidarity and political commitment to tackle this global challenge, echoed by many at the World Health Assembly last week. Yet the money raised is only the down payment of what is required to end this pandemic and prevent the next one.

Beyond the pledges made thus far toward research and development into diagnostics, therapeutics, and vaccines to stop the spread of COVID-19, the international community must also prioritize investments that will ensure universal and equitable access to these innovations, and ensure that in particular the world’s poorest countries can continue delivery of essential health services to the most vulnerable populations during the pandemic, and build stronger, more resilient, and better-prepared health systems for the future.

This is not only the right thing to do for humankind, but also an outbreak anywhere can quickly become a pandemic everywhere — as COVID-19 has so clearly demonstrated.  

Therefore, we urge you to build on the successful pledging effort begun on May 4 and go much bolder — to ensure the world has the resources and efficient, inclusive mechanisms necessary to rid the world of COVID-19, deliver equitable access to innovations, and prevent future pandemics. Specifically, we are calling on all leaders to:

Achieve international agreement on a strategic, fully costed plan to end this pandemic and prevent the next one. Establish a transparent and credible process to develop to identify and fully cost the needs to end COVID-19 and help prevent future pandemics particularly in the poorest countries, building on existing international assessments of preparedness gaps. Additionally, it is essential to set out clear principles — based on global equity — and a timeline for delivering the necessary funding for this comprehensive plan through future global pledging moments. All pledges should be additional to previous commitments and the modalities and timeline of disbursements should be made public.

Establish transparent and inclusive governance structures for the new Access to COVID Tools Accelerator, or ACT. Establish an ACT board with diverse global representation beyond health organizations and the founding groups, to include civil society, health care workers, patients and communities, supply chain experts, business and other experts. Furthermore, allocate and disburse funds committed for the ACT against a clear strategic plan to end this crisis and prevent future pandemics, prioritizing those in LMICs and vulnerable groups. And clear principles must be established on the use of funds and private sector engagement, patents, and reporting.

Retain commitments to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. Even as global leaders mobilize to invest in a bold and accelerated COVID-19 global response, they need to continue to support overseas development aid to mitigate the effect of the pandemic on the poorest nations and to build better and more resilient interlocking systems that lead people out of extreme poverty.

We stand ready to work with decision-makers in global institutions and governments to make sure we end this crisis and prevent future pandemics with global, sustainable, and inclusive solutions, on the basis of the above principles of equity, transparency, and accountability. It is time for leaders to act, breaking the cycle of panic and neglect around pandemic preparedness and do whatever it takes to rid the world of COVID-19 and make sure this situation cannot happen again.

Signed,

Global Citizen
Global Health Advocates
Humanity & Inclusion
The ONE Campaign
Management Sciences for Health
Pandemic Action Network
Project Everyone

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