SWITZERLAND –The US National Institutes of Health (NIH) has agreed to license 11 Covid-19 technologies to the Medicines Patent Pool (MPP) via the World Health Organization’s Covid-19 Technology Access Pool (C-TAP).

The US government announced the move during the second Global Covid-19 Summit, co-hosted by the US, Belize, Germany, Indonesia, and Senegal, which raised a total of US$3 billion for various forms of pandemic preparedness and response.

This included US$960 million in commitments from the United States and other developed countries to establish a new Pandemic Preparedness and Health Security Fund housed by the World Bank.

The new US$200 million US contribution is in addition to the US$250 million pledged last year, according to Xavier Becerra, US Secretary of Health and Human Services, who spoke at the Summit.

The Independent Panel, whose critical review noted the need for a standing pool of finance to spur faster pandemic response, recommended the establishment of a standing fund last year.

The technologies include SARS-CoV-2 stabilized spike protein, early-stage vaccine and diagnostic candidates, and research tools to aid in vaccine and therapeutic development.

The list includes an RNASEH-assisted detection assay for RNA, detection of SARS-CoV-2 and other RNA viruses, and a high-throughput diagnostic test, according to the WHO.

The global and non-exclusive licenses will enable manufacturers to work with MPP and C-TAP to use the technologies to make Covid-19 diagnosis and treatment available to people in low and middle-income countries.

Both WHO and the MPP welcomed the agreement, which would make these technologies more accessible to people in low- and middle-income countries and help to overcome the pandemic.

WHO director-general Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said: “I welcome the generous contribution NIH has made to C-TAP and its example of solidarity and sharing.

Whether it’s today’s pandemic or tomorrow’s health emergency, it’s through sharing and empowering lower-income countries to manufacture their own health tools that we can ensure a healthier future for everyone.”

WHO launched C-TAP in 2020 to support quick, equitable, and affordable access to Covid-19 health products. The product licenses are held by MPP.

C-TAP and MPP completed a licensing agreement with the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC) for their Covid-19 serological antibody test last year.

Over US$2 billion for ACT-A program

At the Summit, global leaders also pledged more than US$2 billion in funding for immediate COVID response, with much of it going to the WHO-sponsored Act Accelerator (ACT-A), which will be used to procure vaccines, treatments, tests, and health system capacity-building.

This included a CAD 735 million (US$569.6 million) donation from Canada and a US$300 million donation from Spain, as well as pledges from Australia, Austria, Sweden, Italy, South Africa, and Thailand to donate over 130 million additional vaccine doses to low-income countries.

Furthermore, the African Union, as well as 16 low- and middle-income countries, stated that they would invest more domestic resources in health systems, pandemic preparedness, and COVID vaccine campaigns – as well as new product R&D and manufacturing.

Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country, pledged to train 10,000 more frontline healthcare workers on basic infection prevention and control by December 2022, as well as to support more laboratory capacity for genomic sequencing and a 70% COVID vaccination goal.

Tanzania, once the continent’s most vaccine-averse country, has pledged to vaccinate 70% of all eligible Tanzanians against COVID by fall 2022.

Rwanda has also committed to meeting the 70% target by the end of the year, as well as doubling booster coverage from 30-60% of those eligible.

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