The World Health Organization (WHO) launched on Monday an urgent $7.7 billion appeal for the ACT-Accelerator initiative to curb the spread of new COVID-19 variants. To address the spread of the Delta variant, the Rapid ACT-Accelerator Delta Response has been created, which is now in need of funding within the next four months.

“US$7.7 billion is needed urgently to fund the ACT-Accelerator’s work to address the Delta surge and put the world on track to ending the pandemic. This investment is a tiny portion of the amount governments are spending to deal with COVID-19 and makes ethical, economic and epidemiological sense,” Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the WHO director general, said on Monday. “If these funds aren’t made available now to stop the transmission of Delta in the most vulnerable countries, we will undoubtedly all pay the consequences later in the year,” he added.

The funding is planned to increase testing in poorer countries, enhance COVID-19 research and development, tackle the issue of oxygen shortage for the seriously ill, provide health workers with protective equipment, and tackle the lack of COVID-19 tools. The ACT-Accelerator has been designed to facilitate the development and distribution of COVID-19 diagnostics, therapeutics and vaccines.