Key questions for policy makers – supply chain, vaccines, masks, equipment and pharmaceuticals

Are there any effective drug treatments available now for COVID-19? 
Where can I find reliable information about this?

Some medicines are being used after anecdotal reports, but scientific proof is lacking. Randomised controlled clinical trials have started to see whether any of the existing medicines are effective against COVID-19. Treatment is currently limited to general, supportive treatment at home, hospital or in ICU. Prevention is key until vaccines have been developed. HEART keeps a webpage of reliable information sources.

How do we maintain supply of medicines, personal protective equipment and tests?
How can we produce ventilators quickly and at low cost?

Normal supply chains have been severely disrupted. We can assist with alternative emergency strategies, e.g.:

  • Setting up a national coordination centre for equitable supply of medicines, tests and protective equipment.
  • Support the planning of national production of medicines and/or protective equipment. In some countries, this could be expanded to pharmacy compounding in hospitals or university labs.
  • Help countries or regions assess whether they can make the active pharmaceutical ingredients for medicines domestically. Hera performed such a study on HIV/AIDS, TB and malaria products for all South African Development Community (SADC) countries.

Support countries with local production of appropriate technology, for example, simple ventilators or low cost bubble CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure).

When a vaccine becomes available, how will it be distributed and rolled out?

New medicines and vaccines will hopefully be developed and launched in next 1-2 years but capacity to produce for the world will be low and take time, while the price will depend on the type of licensing agreements companies and countries come to.

If vaccines and medicines are licensed (for example through the WHO COVID-19 Technology Pool), prepare countries and/or economic blocks to strengthen production of new medicines or vaccines nationally or regionally.

If new medicines are not licensed, countries will need to be advised about their legal rights of TRIPS flexibilities, such as government use or compulsory licenses (e.g., Brazil, Chile, Ecuador, Israel, Germany have already done so).

Back to COVID-19 homepage