Exiting the COVID-19 crisis calls for one of the greatest public health collaborations in history. The world urgently needs treatments to confront the pandemic now and to prepare for potential new waves in the coming months. In the frame of the the Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator (ACT-A), Wellcome and Unitaid are co-leading global efforts to find, produce and deliver 245 million treatment courses in low- and middle-income countries by mid-2021.Read on to learn why therapeutics are vital to change the course of the pandemic and how the ACT-A Therapeutics Partnership is already making a difference:
A first breakthrough into tackling COVID-19 infection
There is currently a lack of approved therapeutics for COVID-19. Members of the ACT-A Therapeutics Partnership are rapidly assessing how existing medicines can be repurposed to confront the virus, and researching new treatments with emphasis on products that can be easily deployed on a large scale.
The first results of this global effort are recent findings on the potential of dexamethasone to reduce deaths among critically ill patients who are on ventilators or receiving oxygen therapy. Working with Wellcome and other partners, Unitaid and the Unicef Supply division have agreed on an initial purchase to expand access to dexamethasone in low- and middle-income countries.
Products to prevent and treat
The world urgently needs therapeutics for all stages of the COVID-19 infection. Therapeutics could protect people from infection and prevent those who are already have the virus from developing symptoms and passing it onto other people. They could also make the difference between mild and severe symptoms, short and long hospitals stays and life-long health effects, and even life and death.
The need for therapeutics —now and when a vaccine becomes available
The global roll-out of one or more vaccines will take time and may not reach full protection. This means the world will still need to test and to treat those who continue to fall ill. Research is ongoing, but accelerating the quest for medicines to prevent and treat COVID-19 requires additional resources.
Making COVID-19 therapeutics a reality
Speeding up the development of medicines, tests and vaccines for COVID-19 is a health and economic imperative, the alternative being a total global cost in the region of US$30 trillion. On the therapeutics front, the international community must provide at least US$7.2 billion in the next 12 months, of which US$3.8 billion are needed immediately, while domestic contributions should amount to at least US$4.4 billion. The investment will be channelled through 3 work streams: Unitaid will lead the work on market preparedness, costing and financing, while Wellcome and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation will oversee the rapid evidence assessment of candidates and The Global Fund will oversee the deployment of treatments.
Ensuring access for everybody, everywhere
In the face of pandemics, nobody is safe until everybody is safe. The package of essential products against COVID-19 must be adapted to low- and middle-income countries, and respond to the needs of people with other diseases such as HIV, TB and malaria. Equitable access to medicines, tests and vaccines could contribute to saving millions of lives and limiting the economic ravages of the pandemic.