Economic Benefits Of Equitable Vaccine & Medicines Distribution Would Be 12 Times Costs to Donor Countries, Says Study
The WHO calls on countries to commit to the ACT Accelerator, calling it a “global solution” with economic benefits.

The economic benefits to the economies of ten high income countries being asked to support the equitable, worldwide distribution of COVID-19 vaccines, treatments and tests would be 12 times the costs, a new report has found.

The study, undertaken by the global political risk research firm Eurasia Group, on behalf of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, found that the world’s ten largest donors would reap some US$466 billion in an economic boon over the next five years, if they were to support the US$ 38 billion required by WHO’s Access to COVID-19 (ACT) Accelerator to fund more equitable distribution of emerging treatments, vaccines and tests.  The same ten countries would reap at least US$153 billion over the coming year – due to improvements in global trade, tourism and economic activity that would result.

The report examined the economic benefits that would accrue to ten leading donor countries – including Canada, France, Germany, Japan, Qatar, South Korea, Sweden, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom and the United States.

So far, the 10 countries featured in the report have contributed $2.4 billion to the work of the ACT Accelerator. The UK committed just more than US$1 billion, and Germany, Canada, France, committed US$618 million, US$290 million, US$229 million, and US$147 million respectively.

The ACT Accelerator is a unique global collaboration that supports the development and equitable distribution of tests, treatments, and vaccines the world needs to fight COVID-19. However, the ACT Accelerator, which published its Urgent Priorities and Financing Requirements last month, still has a significant funding gap of US$28.2 billion, and needs US$4.3 billion immediately for critical areas of work.

If that shortfall isn’t met, low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) risk delayed access to vital tools including vaccines in 2021. This would result in a prolonged pandemic with severe economic consequences – not just for LMICs, but for the wider global economy. The benefit to supporting LMICs with access to treatments and vaccines far outweigh the cost, the report, which was commissioned by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, emphasizes.


Ratio of economic benefits (2020-25) to current US$5B billion funding gap for COVAX-AMC.

Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General, called on countries to commit to the work of the ACT Accelerator, stating that, “The ACT Accelerator is the global solution to ending the acute phase of the pandemic as quickly as possible by ensuring equitable access to COVID-19 tools. Contributing to the ACT Accelerator is not just the right thing to do – it’s the smart thing for all countries – socially, economically and politically.” 

ACT Accelerator: Economic Gains to Low and Middle-Income Countries and High-Income Countries

Over just seven months, the ACT Accelerator’s progress has evaluated over 50 diagnostic tests and ensured the development of new rapid antigen diagnostics for LMICs. In addition, it has rolled out life-saving Dexamethasone treatments, research into monoclonal antibody treatments and has mapped out the health system requirements for delivery of COVID-19 tools have been mapped in 4 out of the 6 world regions. 

COVAX, the vaccines pillar of the ACT Accelerator, aims to accelerate the development and manufacture of COVID-19 vaccines, and to guarantee fair and equitable access for participating countries.

According to the International Monetary Fund, if medical solutions can be made available faster and more widely, there could be a reduction of income divergence in all countries. Rapid, widespread, and equitable vaccinations, tests, and treatments have the potential to save countless lives in LMICs, allowing policymakers’ focus to return to the core development goals of raising living standards, empowering women, and marginalized communities, and strengthening institutions. 


Level of access to COVID-19 tools as of November 2020 in high-income compared to low-income countries.

WHO has stated that it is in every economy’s interests to finance a global solution, as all economies are interdependent through mobility and global trade. 

“There is a clear humanitarian and ethical case for supporting the ACT Accelerator and the COVAX facility, along with the obvious economic gains it would bring to developing countries. Doing nothing risks reversing years if not decades of economic progress. But our analysis shows that the program is likely to yield economic and other returns for major donor countries as well,” said Alexander Kazan, Managing Director for Global Strategy at Eurasia Group and one of the authors of the report. 

Kazan added: “The ACT Accelerator is a unique opportunity to save lives, repair the global economy, and build diplomatic capital that will last a generation.”

Image Credits: Marco Verch/Flickr, Eurasia Group, WHO.

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