The Union welcomes the WHO’s Solidarity Call to Action to realise equitable global access to COVID-19 health technologies

The Union applauds the World Health Organization’s (WHO) call to voluntarily pool the knowledge, intellectual property and data necessary for global progress against the COVID-19 pandemic and the work to ensure the availability, affordability and assured-quality of the products developed to end the COVID-19 pandemic. The Union further commits to sharing information and research related to COVID-19 and advocating for the endorsement of this call to action by all nations, funding agencies, research institutions, companies and other stakeholders.

“Creating vaccines and successful treatments against a novel pathogen like COVID-19 is an enormous challenge – and there is no guarantee we will be successful. We must invest in success and that means sharing knowledge and pooling information on a global scale, as the WHO’s call to action is advocating”, said José Luis Castro, Executive Director of The Union.

“Nations across the world have seen catastrophic loss of life and economic downturns of historic proportions as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. World leaders, research industries and funders must commit now to do everything possible to end this crisis as swiftly as possible. Holding back information and knowledge now, in the hopes of being first to strike gold with a vaccine, would be a foolish gamble. Not only will this sort of protectionism slow progress towards the solutions we so desperately need – at the expense of further loss of life and continued economic depression – it limits our chances for us to find a vaccine at all.

“We will not be able to declare success against this pandemic if the solutions we find do not reach every last person who needs them. Any effort to stymie cooperation – like the United States’ recent announcement that it would withdraw the US from the WHO – would be recklessly irresponsible, both to the American people and the world as a whole.

“We have to build strong communities of action. The G7 was instrumental in creating the Global Fund and mobilising new resources for AIDS, TB and malaria 20 years ago. Today, we need leadership from every country – no exceptions. Our role as public health agencies, non-governmental organisations, civil society and citizens is to come together to support knowledge sharing efforts to ensure that research outcomes are affordable, available and accessible to all on a global scale, while demanding the endorsement of the Solidarity Call to Action.”

The Union has signed on to a letter of solidarity with the WHO, condemning President Trump’s decision to end US contributions to the WHO.

To support open sharing of information, The Union has taken steps to remove barriers to the scientific research submitted to its International Journal of Tuberculosis and Lung Disease (IJTLD) on the topic of COVID-19 and intersecting health challenges including tuberculosis (TB), tobacco use and non-communicable disease. All IJTLD research related to COVID-19 has been fast-tracked to publication and shared with open access on The Union’s websites, forgoing the paywalls and subscriptions typically required.

And to facilitate open discussion and collaboration, The Union has been hosting a weekly webinar series in which global experts across the field of lung health discuss, debate and share the latest research, policies and guidance regarding COVID-19 and co-morbidities.

The Union’s COVID-19 toolkit includes frequently asked questions relating to COVID-19, TB and tobacco use, as well as additional resources and official guidance.