The global response to COVID-19 has shown that the world was ill-prepared to prevent and rapidly respond to a novel pandemic threat. Despite repeated warnings of the increasing threat of epidemics and pandemics, both public and private sector actors have failed to prioritize the forward-looking investments, systems, and structures that are necessary to ensure that life saving tools and medical countermeasures are ready to deploy to curb the spread of disease before it becomes a global health emergency.
When COVID-19 emerged in early 2020, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) determined that urgent and unprecedented action would be required. In response, the government mobilized emergency surge funding to kickstart research and development (R&D) of new medical countermeasures. As President of the G20 at the time, KSA in April 2020 partnered with the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), investing US$150 million to help fuel the development of COVID-19 vaccines for global use. With this timely support, CEPI was able to leverage additional funding, expertise, and know-how from around the world to accelerate COVID-19 vaccine development with the aim of enabling rapid global, equitable, and affordable access to vaccines to save lives and slow the spread of the virus.
Although COVID-19 vaccines were developed in record time, most low- and middle-income countries have been left far behind their high-income country counterparts in terms of vaccine access. Without widespread global vaccination, the COVID-19 virus will continue to spread unchecked in many parts of the world, risking the emergence of new variants that can withstand existing vaccines and therapeutics while threatening to undo the progress that has been made. This underscores the urgent need to immediately ramp up the supply and delivery of COVID-19 vaccines to get more jabs in arms and reach the 70% global vaccination goal set at the Global COVID-19 Summit.
Produced by the Future Investment Initiative Institute and Pandemic Action Network, The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia: Partnering to Advance Health Security in the Middle East and Around the World calls for strategic investments in CEPI to be made by KSA and global partners to answer the call for increased, more predictable, longer-term, and sustainable funding for vaccine R&D, thus addressing variants and preparing the world for future pandemics.
Read the full report here.