WHO seeks $11 billion in funding to control variant Delta

The World Health Organization (WHO) is seeking urgent funding of $11.5 billion to combat variant DeltaAccording to a preliminary report to which "Reuters" had access.

Much of the money being requested from WHO partners is needed to buy tests, oxygen, and surgical masks for the poorest countries. A quarter of the money is earmarked for the purchase of millions of vaccines.

The document, still subject to change, describes the results of the program co-led by the public health agency to fairly distribute Covid-19 vaccines, drugs, and tests around the world. The program, created at the start of the pandemic, remains underfunded, and its coordinators now acknowledge that it will remain so as many governments seek to meet global Covid-19 needs "differently."

Last week, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus had already admitted that $7.7 billion was urgently needed, but he did not give a breakdown of planned spending, nor did he say how much extra money would be needed for vaccines.

Among the immediate needs are $1.2 billion for the purchase of oxygen tanks that will be used to treat critically ill Covid-19 patients in poorer countries. The oxygen is needed to "control the exponential death outbreaks caused by the Delta variant," the report explains. Global demand for medical oxygen is now more than a dozen times higher than before the pandemic, the WHO stresses.

The latest funding crisis raises some concerns about the long-term future of the program, which has struggled to secure vaccines, drugs and equipment. The vaccine part of the project, called COVAX, is increasingly dependent on donations from rich countries, after India's main manufacturer restricted vaccine exports to increase domestic doses. So far, COVAX has delivered about 180 million vaccines, far short of its target of two billion by the end of this year.

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