New antivirals against COVID-19 are increasingly being used as part of many national COVID-19 response strategies. These new therapies are given to patients with COVID-19 to help prevent the disease from getting worse. Until now, these life-saving drugs have not been widely accessible to low- and middle-income countries due to cost and availability.
Through the Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator (ACT-A), partners are accelerating development and manufacturing of therapeutics, while UNICEF is supporting supply and distribution to ensure fair and equitable access to countries low and middle income.
Deliveries begin in 14 countries
Today, more than 20,000 units of molnupiravir landed in Cambodia – the first of 14 countries scheduled to receive orders placed by UNICEF. This delivery follows the conclusion of several Long-Term Agreements (LTAs) established by UNICEF with molnupiravir suppliers in early 2022 and subsequent allocations made by the World Health Organization (WHO).
“This delivery of new therapeutics will strengthen Cambodia’s capacity to respond to COVID-19,” said Etleva Kadilli, Director of UNICEF’s Supply Division. “UNICEF remains committed to ensuring equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines, tests and treatments for low- and middle-income countries where the burden on people and health systems is often the greatest.
Funding for these molnupiravir allocations was made possible in part by the Government of Canada’s contribution to UNICEF’s ACT-A Supplies Financing Facility (ACT-A SFF), a fund that supports the purchase and delivery of in-demand COVID-19 tools and related supplies.
Building on therapeutic equity
Since the start of the pandemic, treatment options for COVID-19 in most low- and middle-income countries have been mostly limited to oxygen therapy and corticosteroids such as dexamethasone, the first treatment available through the drug catalog. supply from UNICEF. Access to the new treatments was possible for high-income countries, which could afford the available supplies.
In January 2022, UNICEF established the first LTA for new COVID-19 oral antivirals with original manufacturer and generic suppliers.
UNICEF continues to work alongside ACT-A partners to address the inequities that exist in access to COVID-19 treatment. This includes signing long-term agreements with manufacturers for new products, prioritizing technical assistance to build and improve oxygen systems in low- and middle-income countries, and leading procurement and delivery of supplies.
Along with COVID-19 treatments, UNICEF is shipping personal protective equipment (PPE), vaccines and diagnostics to support integrated national responses, including strengthening health systems to bring the pandemic under control as the virus continues to evolve.