News - 2022

Global Fund Signs Letter of Intent with Pfizer for Oral COVID-19 Treatment

20 May 2022

Geneva - The Global Fund has signed a letter of intent with Pfizer for the procurement of up to 6 million treatment courses of the new oral antiviral medicine nirmatrelvir/ritonavir, sold under the name PAXLOVID™, in 2022-2023.

Thanks to partner collaboration through the Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator (ACT-Accelerator), and subject to finalization of a purchasing agreement with Pfizer, all 130 countries eligible for Global Fund grants will have access to PAXLOVID, subject to local regulatory approval or authorization. This will lead to improved access, based upon country demand and availability.

“We warmly welcome this stepping stone toward a purchasing agreement with Pfizer, and hence toward more equitable access to optimal treatment for COVID-19, particularly for those most likely to be severely affected by the virus in the world’s poorest countries,” said Peter Sands, Executive Director of the Global Fund.

The deal is based on a strong recommendation recently made by WHO for nirmatrelvir/ ritonavir, sold as PAXLOVID, for mild and moderate COVID-19 patients at highest risk of hospital admission. The WHO called PAXLOVID the best therapeutic choice for high-risk patients to date.

Since PAXLOVID is recommended to be administered at the early stages of COVID-19 infection within five days of symptom onset, it is crucial for the successful rollout of treatment that access to early testing and diagnosis in low- and middle-income countries is improved.

“Unitaid and partners of the ACT-A therapeutics pillar are fully committed to ensuring that people at high risk of developing severe or critical COVID-19 everywhere have timely access to effective therapeutics. This letter of intent signed with Pfizer is an additional step toward reaching this goal,” said Unitaid Executive Director Dr Philippe Duneton. “Rapid access to affordable and optimal treatments, alongside adequate testing, is crucial to realize the promise of Test to Treat strategies in low- and middle-income countries.”

On 12 May, at the Second Global COVID-19 Summit, the Global Fund, the United States and Unitaid, together with the Foundation for Innovative New Diagnostics (FIND) and other ACT-Accelerator partners, launched over US$120 million in support for test-and-treat programs to prevent hospitalizations and deaths from COVID-19 for those most at risk in over 20 low- and middle-income countries.

Through the COVID-19 Response Mechanism, the Global Fund is the primary channel for providing grant support to low- and middle-income countries for COVID-19 tests, treatments (including medical oxygen), personal protective equipment and critical elements of health systems strengthening.

The Global Fund is a founding partner of the ACT-Accelerator. This global collaboration of leading public health agencies is working with governments, civil society and industry to accelerate the development and equitable distribution of tests, treatments and vaccines – and the strengthening of health systems – that the world needs to fight COVID-19. The Global Fund is co-leading on three of the ACT-Accelerator’s four components – the Diagnostics Pillar, the Therapeutics Pillar and the Health Systems & Response Connector.

About the ACT-Accelerator: The Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator is a global coalition of organizations developing and deploying the new diagnostics, treatments and vaccines needed to end the acute phase of the pandemic. Pooling the expertise of its many partners, the ACT-Accelerator has quickly ushered in rapid, affordable tests and effective medicines, and established the COVAX facility for the equitable procurement and distribution of vaccines in low- and lower-middle-income countries.