Global Health Threats Fund (G20)

Founded
Proposed in June 2021.
Governance
Global Health Threats Board, to be hosted at the G20. Structured as a Financial Intermediary Fund (FIF) at the World Bank, with governance independent of the World Bank.
Funding
Target is to mobilize USD 10 billion per year, for five years, funded by nations based on pre-agreed contributions as well as philanthropic and corporate contributions. This amount represents two thirds of the estimated total increase of international funding needed for pandemic prevention, preparedness and response (USD 75 billion over five years).
Description

This fund is proposed by the G20 High Level Independent Panel (HLIP) on Financing the Global Commons for Pandemic Preparedness and Response, as part of a broader proposal for increased funding for pandemic prevention, preparedness and response. This fund should support a transformed global network for surveillance of infectious disease threats, and investments in sufficient supply and development of medical countermeasures and tools.

Strengths

  • Makes a clear case for a sharp increase in funding for pandemic preparedness and response.
  • Pre-agreed contributions would lead to more predictable and sustainable funding.
  • Contributions are based on the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), hence on ability to pay.
  • The proposal emphasizes the need for funding for pandemic preparedness and response to be additional and not detract from, for example, investments needed to strengthen health systems.

Weaknesses

  • Governance is heavily skewed towards those contributing most financially, risking insufficient representation of low- and middle-income countries.
  • Does not specify conditions for public funding of private companies, such as affordable pricing, sharing intellectual property or technology transfer.
  • The amounts are large and although the proposal emphasizes the need for additionality, there is a risk that increased public funding for pandemic preparedness and response will detract from other important public funding.

Review

Although pre-agreed contributions could potentially lead to a more sustainable funding base, and the proposal emphasizes the need for new resources to be additional, it remains highly uncertain these will be made available. Current funding gaps, including for COVAX, show how many G20 and other high-income countries are failing to contribute their share.

The proposed governance of the Global Health Threats Fund claims to be inclusive but is actually skewed towards those able to contribute most financially (the G20). Priorities, allocation and usage of funds would be decided by the proposed Global Health Threats Board, anchored in the G20 and expanded to a G20+ group of countries and major regional organisations. Only rotating representation is foreseen of countries that are more vulnerable to infectious disease outbreaks with pandemic potential.

Although the proposal contains some strong text on the need for contractual clauses in public-private partnerships to ensure affordable prices, transparency, sharing intellectual property and technology transfer, these are not mentioned explicitly in relation to the funding from the Global Health Threats Fund. Instead, the fund’s support to public-private partnerships emphasizes risk sharing and is silent on benefit sharing.