From the potential impact of COVID-19 in the world’s most vulnerable countries to the global search for a vaccine

The International Rescue Committee (IRC) says the COVID-19 pandemic could infect up to 1 billion people in the world’s most vulnerable countries and cause 3.2 million deaths if the world doesn’t act now.

Related: Low coronavirus testing in Africa leads to blind spots: Africa CDC chief

 

25 key players, including the UK, France, Germany, the World Bank, and the Gates Foundation, have pledged to make new vaccines and treatments for COVID-19 accessible around the world, following concerns that access for lower-income countries might not be prioritized. However, the US declined to join the COV-Access Agreement, which was organised by the World Health Organisation (WHO), a move that has drawn criticism and concern from health experts.

Related: Trump expands battle with WHO far beyond aid suspension

 

Health experts fear the sudden rush to develop and supply drugs to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic could undermine the fight against HIV, malaria and tuberculosis as manufacturers shift production to meet the demand for such medications in wealthier countries.

Related: Scientists caution against premature use of TB vaccine to combat COVID-19

 

The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) has warned member states vaccine-preventable diseases such as measles could spread further in Latin America and the Caribbean if countries do not maintain immunizations during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Related: Opinion: How to simultaneously tackle malaria and COVID-19

 

China has received numerous applications for debt-relief from recipients of funding from its Belt and Road Initiative as countries struggle to respond to the economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Related: Why the Global Debt of Poor Nations Must Be Canceled

 

The US department of health and human services (HHS) has presented the US’s G7 partners with a list of reforms it wants from the World Health Organisation (WHO) in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, though G7 diplomats say it is unclear if the proposals represents a comprehensive list of US conditions or if other parts of the administration intend to submit further conditions.

Related: Opinion: Post-pandemic opportunities to improve global development

 

With governments around the world implementing travel restrictions and border closures in an effort to contain the COVID-19 pandemic, aid organisations are debating whether they should push for exemptions for aid workers. Advocates argue aid workers can provide vital humanitarian support to vulnerable communities but opponents of the move say the risk of aid workers exposing those communities to COVID-19 is too high to justify an exemption.

Related: Are local and international aid worker disparities worsening under COVID-19?

 

The Open Society Foundations has outlined plans for how it intends to spend the USD $130 million in funds it announced it will make available to support the global response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Related: Soros’s Open Society Employees Rebuke Management for Redirected Funds

 

The UK development community fears the contraction of the UK’s economy could see the UK’s aid budget fall by hundreds of millions of pounds as humanitarian and development needs climb. The UK is one of the few countries to legally set its official development assistance budget at a minimum of 0.7% of gross national income (GNI) but with the UK’s GNI projected to fall by as much as 13% this year as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic that figure is expected to represent a far smaller value than previous years.

Related: Brexit: UK will not seek a formal agreement with EU on development

 

UK aid advocates have welcomed comments made by U.K.’s secretary of state for international development Anne-Marie Trevelyan indicating she is planning to seek more oversight of how the government spends its aid money.

Related: UK aid efforts to tackle gender equality marred by ‘inaccuracy’, says watchdog

 

Stephanie Amoako of Accountability Counsel has raised concerns about transparency at the US International Development Finance Corporation (DFC) after the organisation announced it is exempt from the Sunshine Act, legislation aimed at promoting transparency and public participation in the U.S. government.

Related: Opinion: How to boost accountability and learning in aid for COVID-19

 

With the fight to contain the COVID-19 pandemic taking precedence over other development concerns, the United Nations Joint SDG Fund has announced recipients can repurpose up to 20% of their development funding for COVID-19 responses.

Related: How DFIs are responding to the COVID-19 crisis

 

Staff at the Education Outcomes Fund (EOF) are optimistic the Fund’s launch will still go ahead this year despite the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. The EOF is intended to help channel private finance and innovation into global education by partnering  with governments to design development impact bonds (DIBs) that address specific educational challenges.

Related: Statement By USAID Acting Administrator John Barsa On The New Partnerships Initiative

 

UNEP says it has no plan to reassess its ties with some of the world’s biggest food and drink companies in the wake of the publication of a study showing Coca-Cola, Pepsi, Nestlé and Unilever are responsible for significant plastic pollution in low- and middle-income countries, with UNEP spokesperson Daniel Cooney saying ‘partnerships do not indicate endorsement’.

 

New statistics from the Norwegian Refugee Council’s Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC) show 50.8 million people were recorded as internally displaced last year, the highest total ever and an increase of 10 million from 2018.