The COVID-19 pandemic has shown that access to timely, accurate diagnostics is fundamental to effective healthcare. The Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator is a unique but time-limited partnership that was set up to respond to the acute phase of the COVID-19 pandemic.
G7 and G20 countries, have so far pledged US$ 18.3 billion to the ACT-Accelerator, of which US$ 12.36 billion has been pledged to the vaccines pillar, COVAX. The G7 in its Health Ministers’ Communiqué (20 May 2022, Berlin) stated:
“We underline our support for all four pillars of the ACT-Accelerator, including its COVAX facility and recognize that supporting the ACT-Accelerator by all means, including with adequate funding, is central to end the acute pandemic.”
The ACT-Accelerator has played a critical role in delivery of diagnostics, therapeutics and vaccines. Investments by ACT-Accelerator partners will deliver benefits for global health programmes beyond COVID-19.
Testing and sequencing allow us to track disease evolution and spread, and facilitate access to treatments. As world leaders including the G7 and G20 are aligning efforts for future pandemic preparedness and creating a G7 Pact for Pandemic Readiness, FIND, Unitaid and ACT-Accelerator Diagnostics Pillar partners call on both G7 and G20 to reaffirm commitments relating to diagnostics as part of the 100 Days Mission put forward during the UK G7 Presidency in 2021:
- Ensure enhanced surveillance systems are in place for early threat detection
- Point-of-care testing platforms are developed and rolled out worldwide to diagnose disease outbreaks as they happen
- Manufacturing capacity is established globally, in a coordinated and distributive framework for rapid technology transfer to minimize over-reliance on any one source and keep supply pipelines open
- Testing systems are linked to rapid public health interventions, breaking chains of transmission in real time – and keeping health systems from being overwhelmed
- Worldwide testing is actionable and accompanied by linkages to treatment and care through accelerated development of vaccines and therapeutics, which can be rolled out in 100 days
- Global equitable access to tests, vaccines and therapeutics, including medical oxygen, is assured
Addressing shortfalls in diagnostic testing must be an urgent priority. Deficiencies in testing affect not only people’s lives, but communities and economies as well as our ability to ensure we can manage existing and future outbreaks of diseases, as COVID-19 showed clearly. Strong global leadership and political will is needed to accelerate change and lead the world towards a better future.
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