Expert insight

Supporting the global collaboration initiative to accelerate the development, production and equitable access to new COVID-19 tools

28 April 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected millions of people around the world exposed health care systems, broken down economies, and profoundly changed the way of social interactions. This pandemic cannot be tackled alone, and doesn’t leave room for any competing interests. In the words of Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General, “we will only halt COVID-19 through solidarity”. Joining heads of state and global health leaders, the world’s leading biopharmaceutical companies, represented by IFPMA, declared their commitment to a landmark global partnership to accelerate the Development, Production and Equitable Access to New COVID-19 diagnostics, therapeutics and vaccines, the ACT Accelerator.

On Friday, 24 April 2020, Thomas Cueni, IFPMA DG delivered a statement at the virtual WHO launch event (YouTube). He emphasized that the biopharmaceutical industry is acutely aware of the enormous responsibility we have to patients and society to engage in unprecedented levels of collaboration to find a solution to COVID-19.

He underlined that we stand ready to bring to this partnership our unique knowledge and expertise in the discovery and development of medicines and vaccines, as well as our experience building manufacturing capacity and distribution networks. Today, scientists in the public and private sector hold the keys to our common goal: The swift end of the COVID-19 pandemic. We are proud to be part of this landmark global partnership and are fully committed to its goal to accelerate development, production and equitable global access to safe, quality, effective, and affordable COVID-19 therapeutics and vaccines. In the fight against COVID-19, we must ensure that no one is left behind. We will only succeed in this journey together.

Next to Thomas, world leaders and other global health leaders took the floor addressing the vital role the private sector plays in the fight against this pandemic. Highlights:

  • Emmanuel Macron, President of France, thanked private and public researchers among other key professions as well as Dr. Tedros and the private sector for their ongoing efforts in the fight against COVID-19.
  • Antonio Guterres, Secretary General of the UN, underlined that the production, development and equitable delivery of therapeutics and vaccines across the world is necessary and need to be available for everyone.
  • Richard Hatchett, CEO of the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), highlighted that this partnership combines the strength of governments, multilateral institutions, private sector and NGOs.
  • Philippe Duneton, Deputy Executive Director of UNITAID, stated the fight against the pandemic needs to involve industry.
  • Seth Berkley, CEO of GAVI, explained that COVID-19 needs a global solution drawing from the best science globally and which needs to be brought to everyone. Without a vaccine Seth Berkeley highlighted that we will never defeat this pandemic: “We need to devise a vaccine program which will be the most rapid vaccine deployment program in history.”
  • Angela Merkel, President of Germany, and Ursula von der Leyen, EU Commission President, each also mentioned the need for funding to support this global initiative to speed up the development and scaling up of manufacturing capacity for a potential vaccine. Therefore, Ursula von der Leyen pledged to host an online conference on 4 May in cooperation with renowned organisations to come up with innovative and equitable solutions to address these funding issues.

Together with other international stakeholders and the profound experience and scientific knowledge the biopharmaceutical industry holds, we have the unique opportunity to cooperate and create an effective, international multi-stakeholder coordinated response that leaves no one behind. IFPMA and its members are fully committed to bringing their unique expertise in research, development and manufacturing of diagnostics, medicines and vaccines to the table to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.