22 September 2022
GENEVA - The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria has signed an agreement with Pfizer for the procurement of the new oral antiviral medicine nirmatrelvir/ritonavir, sold under the name PAXLOVID™.
Thanks to partner collaboration through the Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator (ACT-Accelerator), all 132 countries eligible for Global Fund grants will have access to PAXLOVID™, subject to local regulatory approval or authorization. The Global Fund, together with ACT-A partners, is also monitoring developments from generic manufacturers to further improve access to antivirals for vulnerable populations in low- and middle-income countries.
“This is an important step to scaling up equitable access to COVID-19 testing and treatment to save lives among the most vulnerable populations, and to ensure preparedness in the event of future co-variants and surges,” said Peter Sands, Executive Director of the Global Fund.
The deal is based on a recommendation by WHO for nirmatrelvir/ ritonavir, sold as PAXLOVID™, for mild and moderate COVID-19 patients at highest risk of hospital admission.
“Equitable access to COVID-19 treatments is an absolutely essential part of our toolkit to fight COVID-19,” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General, World Health Organization. “We have been calling on industry to work with us to facilitate this access, and welcome this important step forward. We know that nirmatrelvir/ritonavir (Paxlovid) reduces the likelihood that a person at high-risk of severe disease will need to be hospitalized. This is important everywhere, as it could help to decrease the number of avoidable deaths – especially in countries with low vaccination coverage.”
The Global Fund in its capacity as co-lead of the ACT-A Therapeutics Pillar is working with key partners including WHO, USAID, Unitaid, FIND, UNICEF, the Clinton Health Access Initiative, Duke University and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to support countries to establish test and treat strategies and capabilities that are well integrated into broader national preparedness and response plans. 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 the oral antiviral treatments that access to early testing and diagnosis in low- and middle-income countries is improved.
Through the COVID-19 Response Mechanism (C19RM), the Global Fund has been 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. With C19RM, the Global Fund has remained committed to procuring affordable, equitable and good value medicines.
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.
Yesterday, President Joe Biden on behalf of the United States government hosted the 7th Replenishment of the Global Fund which raised a record-breaking US$14.25 billion to fund its next three-year cycle of grants. The Global Fund estimates that this will save millions of lives and strengthen health and community systems. Key to the Global Fund’s work, both with HIV, TB and malaria and through C19RM, is to reinforce pandemic preparedness, so that low- and middle-income countries are prepared to prevent, detect and respond to both current and new pathogens.