Covid-19: Financing, now!

March 27, 2020

Javier Surasky

March 27, 2020

In two previous blog posts (Blog 3 and Blog 5) we made references to the work carried out by the Global Preparedness Monitoring Board, established by the World Health Organization (WHO) and The World Bank in 2018 to monitor and contribute to strengthen global preparedness to face health crises.

Led by the former Prime Minister of Norway and former WHO Director-General, Gro Harlem Brundtland, and by a former Secretary-General of the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, Elhadj As Sy, the 13 Board members are from the United States, the United Kingdom, China, Rwanda, the Netherlands, Geneva, Russia, Japan, Chile, India, and UNICEF. They come from national politics, the United Nations system, philanthropic foundations, civil society, and academia. A true multi-stakeholder experts group.

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak in Wuhan to present, the Board has released two communications.

The first one was published in January 30. In it, after verifying the initial situation seriousness, the Board provided six urgent recommendations:

1) Ensure that all stakeholders openly and urgently share all relevant information about the outbreak.

2) All countries and local governments, including those not affected yet, should immediately dedicate resources to develop their essential preparedness capacities to prevent, detect, report and respond to the outbreak, and strengthen their health systems.

3) The public and private research and development community must urgently accelerate a coordinated development of coronavirus vaccines, diagnostic, and therapeutic methods. The exchange of coronavirus medical samples should be promoted, and scientific articles related to the disease in the most relevant scientific journals must be opened.

4) Countries should support the WHO’s central role in confronting the spread of the virus, including the funding of its activities through voluntary contributions, cooperating, and striving to counter misinformation and fake news.

5) All donors should financially support low-income countries, prioritizing financial and technical support to low- and middle-income countries at risk.

6) Governments, non-governmental institutions, the media, and the World Health Organization should regularly and proactively communicate clear information about the outbreak, on how to prepare for and prevent infections, engaging local organizations at all stages of planning and implementing response actions.

In the second communication, dated March 6, the evolution of the events led the Board to request a financial contribution of at least eight billion dollars. Even taking into account the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund pledges to contribute with 12 and 50 billons respectively, the financial gap was still open, and its most critical elements were the following:

⚪ $1 billion dollars to support the World Health Organization emergency response.

$250 million dollars to strengthen unmet needs in regional surveillance and control.

$2 billion dollars for vaccine development.

$1 billion dollars for distributed vaccine manufacture and delivery.

$1.5 billion dollars for research and development of treatments.

$500 million dollars for diagnostics development.

$1 billion dollars for manufacture and delivery of treatments and diagnostics.

$750 million dollars for stockpiling vaccines and essential protective equipment, such as gloves and masks. 

written statement that included the central elements of the second communication was presented on March 9.

What was the reaction to the request? Find  here real-time information regarding contributions to the recently created COVID-19 Response Fund. The good news is that the money disbursed by donors exceeds the Board´s demand, something very unusual. The bad news is that we are far from the estimated amount. As of today, just over USD 162 million have been received by the Response Fund.

The main funding states are Japan (USD 47,500 million), Germany (USD 27,000 million), and China (USD 20,000 million). The main non-state actors’ contributions come from the Central Emergency Response Fund (USD 10 billion) and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (USD 9.5 billion).

The complete list of donors and their financial and non-financial contributions, such as medical personnel and medical supplies, are also presented here (scrolling down).

The number and amount of contributions still need to rise. The speed at which grants will be made is as fundamental as its volume. In essence, time is not money, but in this case, a timely response means supporting actions that should be taken right now in areas where COVID-19 is already present. Not all of us can provide funding, but we can be attentive to what our governments are doing in this regard and let them know our reactions to their decisions.

“The United States of America represents approximately 85% of the cases and 84% of the deaths in region. All 50 States, District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands have reported confirmed COVID-19 cases with varying levels of community transmission (defined or widespread) in all but 11 reporting states of the US”.

PAHO, March 25, 2020.

Check out the updated information day after day 👉 Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19)

Other blogs of the series

Covid-19: The Price of Unfulfilled Promises | March 26, 2020

Covid-19: Financing versus Financing | March 26, 2020

COVID-19: It’s foolishness, stupid! | March 20, 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic and the virtual limitations of development governance | March 18, 2020

What does COVID-19 tell us about Sustainable Development and the 2030 Agenda? | March 11, 2020

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