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About COVID Treatment Quick Start

The COVID Treatment Quick Start Consortium brings together Duke University, Americares, the Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI), and COVID Collaborative as implementing partners, with support from the Open Society Foundations, Pfizer and the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation. The consortium will support governments to introduce and scale up access to new and effective COVID-19 oral antiviral therapies in high-risk populations. Partner countries include Ghana, Kenya, Laos, Malawi, Nigeria, Rwanda, South Africa, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. 

The project will kick-start programs through a donation by Pfizer of 100,000 courses of PAXLOVID™ (nirmatrelvir/ritonavir), for which the World Health Organization (WHO) has issued a strong recommendation for use in high-risk individuals with mild to moderate COVID-19, administered within five days of symptom onset. These test-and-treat programs will shift to using quality assured, low-cost generics when they become available to facilitate wider adoption throughout countries.

The COVID-19 virus has remained a Public Health Emergency of International Concern since January 20, 2020. Over the past two and a half years, the COVID-19 pandemic has exposed significant global inequities in access to therapeutics, vaccines, testing, and other medical interventions that could limit the range and impact of the disease. Access to treatment has become an urgent need to tackle alongside persistently low primary vaccination and booster rates in many countries. New antiviral medicines such as PAXLOVID™ and molnupiravir have been available in high-income countries since late 2021 but are not yet widely available in low- and middle-income countries. In addition, scale-up of self-testing for COVID-19 in these settings will enable even more effective approaches.   

Partners involved in the COVID Treatment Quick Start Consortium are committed to ensuring a more equitable scale-up of test-and-treat programs with antiviral medicines in low- and middle-income countries, to help address some of the challenges faced in the global scale up of vaccines. 

Over the next 18 months, the Quick Start Consortium will catalyze implementation of test-and-treat programs and operational research in partner countries. Specific goals of the consortium are to:

  1. Work with Ministries of Health to rapidly introduce and scale access to COVID-19 oral antiviral therapy in vulnerable and high-risk populations presenting with mild to moderate symptoms within 5 days of symptom onset through a public health test and treat model;
  2. Establish a learning network across countries and implementation sites, developing and disseminating best practices to catalyze and inform additional low- and middle-income country programs and scale-up; and
  3. Build sustainable, well-financed COVID-19 outpatient test-and-treat programs that are widely available to appropriate populations, with stable access to low-cost, quality-assured generic equivalents.

The consortium expects that treatment will begin reaching patients in select partner countries as early as September.

 

“We are eager to continue the fight against COVID-19 pandemic and make sure it does not become entrenched in our society. The Quick Start Consortium will help us to continue to build and strengthen a resilient healthcare system, quickly find the patients who need treatment, and make sure they get needed medicines—regardless of socio-economic status. Like so many other diseases, COVID-19 won’t go away if you just ignore it,”  said Professor Claude Muvunyi, Director General, Rwanda Biomedical Center.

“Having oral antivirals for COVID is something we have always looked forward to, and we are thus excited to be part of an initiative accelerating PAXLOVIDTM   for use for COVID management,”  “With this new milestone, we expect less admissions and also fewer COVID related deaths leading to a reduced burden on our health system,” said Professor Lloyd B. Mulenga, Director of Infectious Diseases for the Ministry of Health, Zambia.

The next step for the COVID Treatment Quick Start Consortium will be to work with Ministries of Health to begin introducing PAXLOVID™ into countries. The consortium will combine this introduction with operational research to inform how best to deploy and scale up COVID-19 test-and-treat programs in low- and middle-income countries. The initial product introduction and research will pave the way for quality assured, low-cost generic equivalent drugs, which will be critical to the sustainability of programs in partner countries.

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“The pandemic has proven that supply is only one step towards enabling greater access of  COVID-19 treatments and bringing an end to the pandemic for everyone everywhere,  Broad and sustainable systems for rapid testing and diagnosis must be in place to help ensure that treatment courses can reach high risk patients in need. We are committed to working with the global health community to address barriers to access and are proud to provide our oral treatment and financial support to further the objective of the Consortium,” said Caroline Roan Senior Vice President, Global Health & Social Impact and Chief Sustainability Officer for Pfizer.

About the Implementing Partners

About Duke University

Younger than most other prestigious U.S. research universities, Duke University consistently ranks among the very best. Its graduate and professional schools—in business, divinity, engineering, the environment, law, medicine, nursing and public policy—are among the leaders in their fields.

Duke enrolls more than 16,000 students in its undergraduate, graduate, and professional programs, and its world-class faculty is helping to expand the frontiers of knowledge. The university has a strong commitment to applying knowledge in service to society, both near its North Carolina campus and around the world. Situated on nearly 9,000 acres in Durham, North Carolina, Duke is one of the very few schools in the country, or the world, that combines academic and athletic accomplishment at the highest levels. The university is represented in the Quick Start Consortium by its Global Health Innovation Center and the Duke-Margolis Center for Health Policy.

“We have seen throughout the global COVID-19 response that new life-saving interventions like vaccines and treatments are not quickly reaching those most in need around the world. The Quick Start Consortium is partnering with governments to bring urgently needed medicines to high-risk populations in countries that do not have easy access to such innovations,” said Dr. Krishna Udayakumar, Founding Director of the Duke Global Health Innovation                                       Center.

About Americares

Americares is a health-focused relief and development organization that saves lives and improves health for people affected by poverty or disaster. Each year, Americares reaches 85 countries on average, including the United States, with life-changing health programs, medicine, medical supplies and emergency aid. Americares is one of the world’s leading nonprofit providers of donated medicine and medical supplies. For more information, visit www.americares.org.

“Over the past two and a half years, we have seen the COVID-19 pandemic impact the health of hundreds of millions of people and claim more than six million lives. By expanding access to testing and treatment in low- and middle-income countries, we will be taking a more equitable approach to reduce hospitalizations and severe disease and, ultimately, save lives,” said Christine Squires, President and CEO of Americares, one of the world’s leading                                             nonprofit providers of donated medicine and medical supplies.

About the 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. For more information, visit www.clintonhealthaccess.org.

“The program will provide governments with catalytic access to the drugs and technical assistance needed to quickly scale up testing and treatment to reach those who need it most. CHAI and our Quick Start partners are deeply committed to correcting the injustice of essential, lifesaving COVID-19 tools disproportionately available to those lucky enough to live in high-income markets. But this goal cannot be met by Quick Start alone, and we welcome                                         additional partners to join our consortium’s efforts,” said Dr. Neil Buddy Shah, Chief Executive Officer of CHAI.

About the COVID Collaborative

The COVID Collaborative is a national bipartisan assembly of experts, leaders and institutions in health, education and the economy, and associations representing the diversity of the country, united to turn the tide on the pandemic by supporting global, federal, state, and local COVID-19 response efforts. COVID Collaborative includes former FDA commissioners, CDC directors, and U.S. surgeon generals; former U.S. secretaries of Education, Defense, Homeland Security, and Health and Human Services; leading public health experts and institutions that span the country; leading business groups and CEOs; major global philanthropies; and associations representing those on the frontlines of public health and education. For more information, visit: www.covidcollaborative.us.

“In addition to identifying the most effective pathways for new product introduction and implementation of test-and-treat, our consortium will establish a learning network – open to all – across countries and sites.  By developing and sharing learnings in near-real time we hope to catalyze and inform additional country programs and population-level scale-up,” said Gary Edson, President of COVID Collaborative.

 
CALL TO ACTION
Join the COVID Treatment Quick Start Consortium in its work to support governments in bringing urgently needed COVID-19 medicines to high-risk populations in low- and middle income countries.
Contact quickstart@duke.edu to find out how your organization can help.