GHTC’s response to COVID-19
COVID-19 is an unprecedented global health crisis. Just as every sector is grappling with unforeseen challenges, global health advocacy has been continuously adapting to a policy environment in flux. As part of this community, the Global Health Technologies Coalition (GHTC) has been responding by:
- Reporting on the latest developments in COVID-19 research and development (R&D).
- Tracking COVID-19’s impacts on the R&D ecosystem.
- Sharing key US and multilateral policy updates with our members and partners.
- Developing and advancing specific policies that would drive creation of new tools for countering COVID-19 in low-resource settings, especially in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs).
GHTC applauds many of the actions taken by lead US policymakers over the last several months. Congress has appropriated more than $10 billion for research to respond to COVID-19 through four emergency supplemental bills, and this funding is driving high-impact innovation at record speed.
Yet many of the new products that result from this innovation will be ill-suited for low-resource settings, which often lack electricity, adequate hygiene, highly trained health care workers, laboratory networks, robust supply chains, and other attributes often taken for granted in well-resourced systems. For these settings, we need different innovations:
- Drugs that are easily transported and administered without the need for highly trained health workers.
- Rapid diagnostic tests that can deliver results at point of care without using complex laboratory equipment.
- Vaccines that are single dose, can be stored at room temperature, can be rapidly produced and distributed, and are easily administered (ideally through ingestion, a patch on the skin, or an electrical pulse rather than an injection).
- Medical devices, such as specially designed non-invasive ventilators, IV infusion monitors, and oxygen delivery devices, that require minimal technical expertise, have fewer and more easily replaceable parts, are quickly manufactured, and are battery operated.
- Personal protective equipment that is durable, reusable, open-source, and can be quickly manufactured and adapted in a variety of settings.
Through our US and multilateral policy efforts, GHTC has been advocating for policies that would foster these needed products. In our US advocacy, we are pushing Congress for three funding lines that would drive innovation at the US Agency for International Development (USAID), the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):
- $200 million for Global Health Programs at USAID to advance and deliver innovations to help LMICs prevent, prepare for, and respond to COVID-19 and other pandemic threats. These innovations should be specifically designed for low-resource settings and should include vaccines and vaccine delivery systems; diagnostics; therapeutics; medical devices; personal protective equipment for frontline health workers; health facility innovations; and the financing, manufacturing, and delivery systems these essential resources require.
- At least $200 million to CEPI to advance vaccine candidates for SARS-CoV-2. CEPI is advancing nine vaccine candidates and has put forward a $5 billion global ask to advance this portfolio. US support for CEPI will help ensure that vaccines developed will be deployed effectively and affordably worldwide.
- Robust funding for the CDC Center for Global Health and National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases to support the development and deployment of essential tools to combat COVID-19 globally.
In our multilateral advocacy, GHTC has been pushing back against the United States’ retreat from international leadership on COVID-19 R&D, including the decision to withdraw from the World Health Organization (WHO) in the middle of the pandemic. GHTC advocates that the United States should work with other global leaders to proactively invest in global product development, manufacturing capacity, and product delivery mechanisms, including the Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator, which could be instrumental in helping LMICs finance the purchase and administration of COVID-19 vaccines, treatments, diagnostics, and other tools. GHTC has also been pushing other G7 and G20 leaders to fill the funding gaps for the ACT Accelerator and to support other financing mechanisms such as a World Bank global health security challenge fund and health systems strengthening investments by regional development banks.
GHTC is also engaging with the Global Health Security Agenda (GHSA) and pushing for the explicit inclusion within GHSA of R&D for diagnostics and medical countermeasures to respond to emerging health threats.
Finally, GHTC has been working with other global stakeholders to assess how new COVID-19 product development and deployment mechanisms could be used to reshape the global R&D ecosystem and benefit other critical global health priorities.
To support our US and multilateral policy asks, GHTC is tracking US government and multilateral-supported COVID-19 R&D, publishing materials to help policymakers and the public better understand these research efforts, and leading and supporting our partners with aligned messaging:
- GHTC COVID-19 R&D Tracker
- Developing a COVID-19 Vaccine: The Facts that Matter
- GHTC maps the US agencies involved in Global Health Security R&D
- GHTC-led Congressional letter to support R&D for the international response
- GHTC featured in Global Citizen: “To Defeat COVID-19, the United States Must Invest in Innovations for All”
- GHTC defends WHO’s role in global R&D response to COVID-19
- GHTC condemns US withdrawal from WHO
- GHTC endorses FIND’s Call to Action on COVID-19 testing