Strengthening health security in the face of the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak will take more than one single product. To protect people around the world from this new virus, healthcare professionals need medical countermeasures that enable them to diagnose patients quickly and accurately. They also need to be able to vaccinate people to prevent the spread of the virus, and treat infected people with effective therapeutics or antiviral drugs.
In US President Donald Trump’s national emergency declaration over coronavirus fears, he announced a public-private partnership (PPP) with major US companies to expand testing capabilities. Vice President Mike Pence and leaders of major corporations and businesses, including Target, Walgreens, Quest Diagnostics, and CVS Health, joined him in the Rose Garden for the announcement.
Working with private labs to boost testing capacity, the federal government is expected to make available 1.4m tests by next week and 5m within the month, according to administration estimates.
In less than a month, the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) has expanded agreements with three companies to develop medical countermeasures. These look to enhance national health security as they continue to seek insight from partners in the private and public sectors to identify promising technologies.
BARDA’s mission is to create and use these successful PPPs with industry to share risk, improve efficiency, and accelerate development. At the same time, the authority looks to sustain a marketplace that guarantees continued access to countermeasures vital to national security.
As part of this, the federal government, academia, and industry have struck a PPP to allow Covid-19 researchers access to high performance computing resources, the White House Office of Science and Technology announced Monday. Called the Covid-19 High Performance Computing Consortium, researchers can submit proposals to gain access to the high-end computing resources.
Members of the consortium include the private corporations IBM, Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud, and the Department of Energy National Laboratories and Technology Centers, which host some of the world’s most powerful supercomputers.
EU puts €232m into PPP for coronavirus vaccine research
Joining global efforts, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) said, “Most of the cases in Europe have been recorded in Italy. Of particular concern, very few of these cases have a link to travel to China. Patients in Belgium, France, Germany, Spain, and the UK have also been infected with the virus, and with the increasing number of injuries and deaths of coronavirus in those countries, but in all these cases there have a very few link with China.”
European Commission (EC) President Urusula von der Leyen said that, as cases continue to rise, public health remains the number one priority. For this reason, the EC has pledged €232m to help contain the coronavirus outbreak, as Italy remains an infection hotspot
Africa facing COVID-19 through PPPs
As confirmed coronavirus cases across Africa are rising, the virus threatens to unleash an unprecedented health crisis in the Sub-Saharan Africa. As of 13 April, over 7,800 coronavirus cases have been confirmed across 43 countries in the region, with South Africa, Cameroon, and Burkina Faso the most affected. The rapid spread of the virus, if left unchecked, threatens to overwhelm weak healthcare systems and exact a large humanitarian toll.
A comprehensive and coordinated effort through PPPs by all development partners is essential to respond effectively to this crisis. The ability of countries to mount the required fiscal response is highly contingent on ample external financing and grant on concessional terms being made available by the international financial community. Without adequate financing, temporary liquidity issues could turn into solvency problems, resulting in the coronavirus crisis having long-term effects on economic activity
Through PPP, the NGO Resolve to Save Lives and the African Centre for Disease Control are working with Ipsos to gather data-driven insights. These will allow them to create tailored guidelines on preventative measures to curb the coronavirus. The coalition was able to use each partner’s expertise to make a plan within a week that could deliver this solution fast and at scale.
Dr Ahmed Alkalawy
Kalawy & Partners
Consultant & PPPs Expert