As a pledging conference for the World Health Organization’s Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator kicks off today during the Coronavirus Global Response Summit, hosted by the European Commission, Germany, France, United Kingdom, Norway and Saudi Arabia, activists called for donors to commit to up-front conditions in order to transform the ACT Accelerator’s goal of guaranteeing global access to COVID-19 treatments, vaccines, and tests into reality. Today’s conference has a pledging target of €7.5 billion.
“Now is not the time for wishful thinking around the life-and-death goal of access for all,” said Professor Brook Baker, Northeastern University School of Law and Health GAP Senior Policy Analyst. “Donors should call for their pledges today to be explicitly tied to conditions that require medicines, vaccines, and diagnostics to be free from exclusivities that will promote price gouging and scarcity of supply. Instead, open sharing of intellectual property, know-how, and data must become the new norm.”
Activists are demanding the following conditions are attached to donor commitments up-front in order to guarantee access to COVID-19 medical technologies:
“Decisions made now will determine whether rapid, sufficient, worldwide production of COVID-19 tools is possible, or a pipe dream,” said Asia Russell, Health GAP’s Executive Director. “Without red lines drawn now, the ACT Accelerator’s success will be undercut. Rather than post hoc industry-driven half measures, harmful exclusivities must be set aside in favor of rapid, non-exclusive, global licensing; commitments to non-enforcement of existing intellectual property rights; transparency; and swift government intervention to break up monopolies that obstruct equitable access.”
“We need ironclad guarantees that rich country governments cannot jump to the front of the line and monopolize access to initial supplies, leaving poor people in impoverished countries with a death sentence,” added Baker.
“Governments must end export controls as well as bans on use of humanitarian aid to procure COVID-19 protective equipment. These measures disrupt medical supply chains and deny needed medicines, tests, and personal protective equipment in impoverished countries,” Baker explained. “Agreements with producers must accompany agreements between governments that equity will trump might. Global procurement and supply systems must be governed to prevent nationalist hoarding of scarce supplies. A major infusion of additional health funding must be provided to low- and middle-income countries to fund life-saving medical products, the health workforce needed to deliver prevention and treatment, and efforts to prevent COVID-19 overwhelming the response to HIV, tuberculosis and malaria.”