What is the ACT-Accelerator?
The Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator is the world’s most comprehensive end-to-end solution to ending the acute phase of the devastating COVID-19 pandemic. It brings together governments, health organizations, scientists, businesses, civil society, and philanthropists to accelerate the development, production, and equitable access to COVID-19 tests, treatments, and vaccines.
The ACT Accelerator is a framework for collaboration. It is not a decision-making body or a new organization. It was set up in response to a call from G20 Leaders in March 2020 and launched by the WHO, European Commission, France and The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in April 2020.
What is the goal of the ACT-Accelerator?
The goal of the ACT Accelerator is to end the COVID-19 pandemic as quickly as possible by reducing COVID-19 mortality and severe disease through the accelerated development, equitable allocation, and scaled-up delivery of vaccines, therapeutics and diagnostics to reduce mortality and severe disease. This will accelerate the end of the health and economic crisis, restoring full societal and economic activity globally in the near term and facilitating high-level control of COVID-19 disease in the medium term.
Who are the partners?
The participating global health organizations are: the World Health Organization (WHO), the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (Global Fund), Unitaid, the Foundation for Innovative New Diagnostics (FIND), the Wellcome Trust, the World Bank Group and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
How is it organized?
The ACT Accelerator is co-convened by nine leading global health organizations. It is not a new legal or decision-making entity but has been set up as a support structure to enable the work of the delivery partners and facilitate cross-cutting knowledge sharing.
The ACT Accelerator comprises four pillars:
Diagnostics, Therapeutics and Vaccines (also known as COVAX), with the Health Systems Connector pillar working across the other three. Each pillar is managed by 2-3 partner agencies. Additionally, WHO leads on the cross-cutting Access and Allocation workstream.
- The Diagnostics pillar is co-led by FIND and the Global Fund, with involvement by WHO. It aims to rapidly identify game-changing new diagnostics, and bring 500 million affordable, high quality rapid diagnostic tests to market by mid-2021, for populations in low- and middle-income countries.
- The Therapeutics pillar is led by Unitaid and the Wellcome Trust, with involvement by WHO. It seeks to develop, manufacture, procure and distribute 245 million treatments for populations in low-and middle-income countries within 12 months.
- The Vaccines pillar – also known as COVAX – is led by CEPI, Gavi and WHO. Its role is to ensure that vaccines are developed as rapidly as possible and manufactured at the right volumes – without compromising on safety – and delivered to those that need them most. By early 2021, its goal is to secure 2 billion doses through the COVAX Facility, an actively managed portfolio of vaccine candidates across a broad range of technologies. All participating countries, regardless of income levels, will have equal access to these vaccines once they are developed. Read Gavi’s COVAX Facility governance explainer for more information.
- The Health Systems connector pillar works across the other three pillars and is convened by the World Bank, Global Fund and WHO. It aims to strengthen the health systems and local community networks that are struggling to cope with COVID-19, and to unlock health system bottlenecks that might hamper the delivery and implementation of new and expanded COVID-19 tools. It also aims to ensure sufficient supplies of essential Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and medical oxygen in low- and middle-income countries to protect frontline workers and to enhance the capacity of health systems to save lives.
Access and allocation is led by WHO, which directs the ACT Accelerator’s work on global access and allocation and regulatory processes (including WHO prequalification).
The co-convenors of each pillar are fully accountable for making the investment case for that area. Grant management and financial reporting to donors is managed by the receiving entity. Formal governance for the pillars is provided by the Boards and governing bodies of the co-convened delivery partners.
WHO also hosts a support structure known as the ACT Accelerator Hub. The Hub ensures knowledge sharing across the pillars of the ACT Accelerator. It will consolidate a report on a regular basis against the work plans and the overall objectives.
The ACT Accelerator also has a Facilitation Council, whose primary function is to provide high-level advice and guidance to ACT Accelerator pillars, principals and partners, as well as global leadership and advocacy for the initiative.
Who will get access to the tools developed as part of the ACT Accelerator?
A key principle underpinning the ACT Accelerator is the need for equitable distribution of COVID-19 tools to those most who need them most, as upheld through the Access and Allocation workstream. The fair allocation mechanism for COVID-19 vaccines through the COVAX Facility is based on the idea that whether a person can access tests, treatment and a vaccine for COVID-19 should not be determined by where they live. Read our Q&A on vaccine access and allocation for more information.
You can follow the status of COVID-19 Vaccines within WHO EUL/PQ evaluation process here.
What has been achieved so far?
As of November 19 2020, since the launch of the ACT Accelerator, the Diagnostics, Therapeutics, Vaccine the Health Systems Connector pillars have delivered the following:
The Diagnostics pillar has invested in innovation for faster, more accurate, affordable and easier-to-use tests, boosting manufacturing capabilities, and ensuring that tests are scalable. They’ve evaluated over 50 diagnostic tests, and on 28 September 2020, ACT Accelerator partners announced that they would make 120 million affordable, quality COVID-19 rapid tests available for low- and middle-income countries.
The Therapeutics pillar aims to find the most promising treatments for everyone across the world and ensure that the most marginalised communities can access the benefits too. It is analysing over 1,700 clinical trials for promising treatments and has secured dexamethasone for up to 2.9 million patients in low-income countries. It has also secured an agreement to help facilitate future access to monoclonal antibody therapies in low- and middle-income countries.
The Vaccines pillar – also known as COVAX – represents the largest and most varied portfolio of COVID-19 vaccines globally and which currently contains over 10 vaccine candidates. The pillar also launched the COVAX Facility for global procurement of vaccines, with over 180 countries engaged.
The Health Systems connector has surveyed over 100 countries to identify health system bottlenecks and capacity gaps and mapped the systems requirements for COVID-19 tool delivery in 4 out of the world’s 6 regions.
Published on 24 September 2020, the ACT Accelerator Status Report and Plan outlines the aspiration, achievements to date, and plan for the ACT Accelerator. It is complemented by two Investment Case documents, which provide an economic rationale for investing in the ACT Accelerator:
The first ACT Accelerator Investment Case was published in September 2020.
As the initiative moved into the scale-up phase, ACT Accelerator’s Urgent Priorities & Financing Requirements was published on 10 November 2020, reflecting the commitments to date, urgent needs, and what is required in 2021.
What is the ACT Accelerator Facilitation Council, and who are its members?
The ACT Accelerator Facilitation Council was formally launched during a virtual meeting of its Members on 10 September 2020, where they issued a statement on the ACT Accelerator. The second meeting held to review the initiative’s progress took place on 3 November 2020.
Its primary functions are to provide high-level advice and guidance to ACT Accelerator pillars, principals and partners, as well as global leadership and advocacy for the initiative. The Council has been carefully composed to ensure an appropriate and diverse representation of global leaders and partners, and includes ACT Accelerator members and donors, market shapers and regional cooperation groups. It is co-chaired by Norway and South Africa and hosted by the European Commission and WHO.
A full breakdown of its membership can be found in the official ACT Accelerator Facilitation Council Terms of Reference.
How are commitments across the pillars tracked and managed? What has been committed to date?
The ACT Accelerator Commitment Tracker is a tool to transparently report on financial commitments to pillars and agencies of the ACT Accelerator. It tracks commitments to ACT Accelerator co-conveners that are applied against ACT Accelerator Pillar budgets (as presented in the ACT Accelerator’s Urgent Priorities & Financing Requirements, dated 10 November 2020).
The COVID-19 Health Funding tracker from the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) reports on COVID-19 response and research commitments more broadly and well beyond the scope of the ACT Accelerator, e.g. to WHO’s Strategic Preparedness and Response Plan, national institutes, the Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative (DNDi), Global Antibiotic Research and Development Partnership (GARDP) and other multilaterals.
Please refer to the ACT Accelerator Commitment Tracker for the most up-to-date information.
How can donors support the ACT-Accelerator?
Donors are invited to contribute directly to the agencies that make up the ACT-Accelerator and non-governmental donors also have the option to support the most urgent needs via the ACT Together Fund.
To support the work of Diagnostics Pillar, please contact:
To support the work of the Therapeutics Pillar, please contact:
To support the work of the Vaccines Pillar, please contact:
To support the work of the Health Systems Connector, please contact:
To support the work of the Access & allocation workstream, please contact:
Non-governmental donors also have the option to provide flexible funding to support the most urgent needs across ACT Accelerator agencies and pillars by donating to the United Nations Foundation-hosted ACT Together Fund. To find out more, or to make a contribution, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.