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New Consortium Launches Catalytic COVID-19 “Test-and-Treat” Demonstrations in Low- and Middle-Income Countries

NEW YORK—A new, innovative partnership between private philanthropy, diagnostics manufacturers, academia, and nongovernmental organizations is launching a consortium to support product introduction programs in low- and middle-income countries to increase access to both testing and treatment of COVID-19.

The Open Society Foundations, the COVID Global Accountability Platform (COVID GAP), a joint initiative of COVID Collaborative and Duke University, and the Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI) have partnered to launch a consortium to support a COVID-19 test-and-treat demonstration program in an initial four countries, with intention to expand to up to 20.

The project comes as global leaders gather for the 2nd Global COVID Summit on May 12, and will help jump-start multi-sector efforts that complement multilateral and U.S. bilateral test-and-treat initiatives and commitments announced at the Summit. This program will quickly enhance access to diagnostics and low-cost oral antiviral COVID-19 treatments. The Open Society Foundations will provide in-country costs, and facilitate access to tests and COVID-19 treatments.

The project will demonstrate to the wider global public health community that this is a viable, long-term addition to vaccination as a means of containing the pandemic. The consortium members will work with national governments, multilateral agencies like the Global Fund and ACT-Accelerator, and bilateral donors to leverage lessons from the early adopter countries to inform the design of wider test-and-treat scale-up in the next phase of the COVID-19 response.

“Together, we will fill an important and urgent gap in both testing and treatment which is vital to containing COVID-19,” said Mark Malloch Brown, president of Open Society Foundations. “We are calling on others—including corporations, other philanthropies, countries, and nongovernmental organizations—to join us in this effort, and catalyze scaled-up investments in this effective strategy. Supporting innovative solutions is the only way to end this pandemic, and philanthropy can help lead the way.”

“Access to effective oral antiviral COVID-19 treatments—especially for high-risk populations— will help save lives, protect fragile health systems, and limit the impact of both future variants and surges,” said Dr. Krishna Udayakumar, co-lead of COVID GAP and founding director of the Duke Global Health Innovation Center. “Providing access to oral antivirals requires implementation of test-and-treat strategies with rapid testing, linked to access to therapies.”

“In addition to treating patients at high risk of poor outcomes from COVID-19, this program will help build the capacity of test-and-treat programs that will form the basis for COVID-19 and future pandemic responses, as well as the basis for community delivered primary health care systems,” said Dr. David Ripin, executive vice president of Infectious Diseases and chief science officer at CHAI. “By refining country-specific operational models, these efforts will accelerate the eventual global scale-up of test-and-treat capabilities while helping bridge to the entry of low-cost, quality-assured generic antivirals.”

Initial countries for implementation will be prioritized in the coming weeks in consultation with national, regional, and global stakeholders. The consortium members invite additional partners to provide funding, implementation support, therapeutics and diagnostics products, and other capabilities to accelerate this effort.

About the Open Society Foundations

The Open Society Foundations work to build vibrant and inclusive democracies whose governments are accountable and open to the participation of all people. We are active in more than 120 countries, making us the world’s largest private funder of independent groups working for justice, democratic governance, and human rights.

About Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI)

The Clinton Health Access Initiative, Inc. (CHAI) is a global health organization committed to saving lives and reducing the burden of disease in low-and middle-income countries. We work with our partners to strengthen the capabilities of governments and the private sector to create and sustain high-quality health systems that can succeed without our assistance.

About COVID Global Accountability Platform (COVID GAP)

The COVID Global Accountability Platform (COVID GAP), led by Duke University and COVID Collaborative, aims to improve and accelerate global pandemic response by serving as an independent source of insights and actionable recommendations, convening key stakeholders to galvanize actions and collaborations, and strengthening transparency and accountability.   

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