The COVID-19 pandemic continues to have far-reaching health, economic and social effects worldwide. Combating the virus is particularly challenging for developing countries. While great progress has been made in the development of tests, treatments and vaccines, broad and equitable worldwide access to these resources is lacking. The emerging, highly contagious mutations of the virus are worrying and further complicate global diagnosis, treatment and vaccination efforts. A quick, efficient end to the pandemic is very much in Switzerland's interest. The virus can only be successfully contained once its spread is curbed worldwide and its global impact, both in terms of health and the economy, is reduced. The Federal Council therefore intends to join an international appeal and support the Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator (ACT-A) initiative with a sum of CHF 300 million to aid developing countries. Parliament will discuss a supplementary credit to this end in the summer session.
Supporting the goals of the ACT-A initiative
ACT-A was launched in 2020 by the G20 countries and the European Commission. The initiative aims to develop vaccines, medicines and tests and strengthen healthcare systems worldwide to effectively combat COVID-19. ACT-A includes various health-related actors, including the World Health Organization (WHO), the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation (GAVI), the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) and the World Bank. Switzerland considers it important to coordinate with international partners and work together to ensure that the virus is contained around the world. Switzerland therefore already supported ACT-A last year, with CHF 75 million.
Specific use of the funds
More than one third of the CHF 300 million earmarked for ACT-A is to go to Geneva-based GAVI, whose goal is to improve access to vaccines in developing countries. GAVI buys COVID-19 vaccines inexpensively and distributes them to developing countries that have submitted their distribution and vaccination plan for these vaccines. Another part of the amount is reserved for promoting research, development and access to tests and medicines. The remaining funds will be used to strengthen local healthcare systems in developing countries. One particular focus here is on logistical efforts on the ground to ensure that medicines, test material and vaccines also reach and protect people in crisis zones and remote regions.
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