London-based Wellcome has launched an initiative to raise at least $8 billion by the end of April to address a global funding shortfall for research on testing, treatments, and vaccines for Sars-CoV-2.
According to Wellcome, private-sector funding to cover existing shortfalls is "the world's best exit strategy" for mitigating the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic. To that end, the COVID-Zero initiative will urge businesses to join a coalition working to bridge funding gaps by donating at least 10 percent of their crisis management budgets to addressing the pandemic, support advocacy efforts, and educate and activate networks in support of the initiative.
COVID-Zero proposes that the initial $8 billion — a fraction of the amount governments are spending on economic stimulus packages — be dedicated to funding the World Health Organization's preparedness and emergency response ($1 billion), regional surveillance and control efforts ($250 million), vaccine development ($2 billion), therapeutics development ($1.5 billion), diagnostics development ($500 million), the manufacture and delivery of therapeutics and diagnostics ($1 billion), the manufacture and delivery of vaccines in low- and middle-income countries ($1 billion), and the stockpiling of vaccines, diagnostics, treatments, and personal protective equipment ($750 million). Funds raised through COVID-Zero will be awarded to WHO's COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), the Foundation for Innovative New Diagnostics (FIND), and the COVID-19 Therapeutics Accelerator, which Wellcome helped launch with a $50 million commitment.
"Drugs, vaccines, and rapid diagnostics are the only way we have of saving lives, bringing this pandemic to an end and preventing it [from] reappearing," said Wellcome CEO Jeremy Farrar. "This is the only exit strategy — but we do not have the funding we need to execute it. We want business leaders to give a small proportion of the money they are dedicating to coping with this crisis to solving it. We hope that governments will follow their example. Otherwise, this is a global issue that will continue to plague the world — and businesses — for months, if not years, to come."
(Photo credit: Dieter Telemans/Panos Pictures)