The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Pledges $50 Million to Increase Access to Safe and Affordable COVID-19 Vaccines in Lower-income Countries
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation today announced a $50 million commitment to Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance. The pledge will support COVID-19 vaccine purchasing through Gavi’s COVAX Advance Market Commitment (AMC) as well as delivery of these vaccines to 92 lower-income countries.
The pledge was announced at Gavi’s COVAX AMC Summit, an event co-hosted by the government of Japan and Gavi that gathered world leaders, the private sector, civil society, and technical partners to build support to procure COVID-19 vaccines and equitably distribute them to lower-income countries.
“The world must urgently come together to expand equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines, or we risk more deaths and the emergence of new variants that could prolong the pandemic for everyone,” said Mark Suzman, CEO of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. “Thanks to today’s contributions, especially Japan’s generous pledge and its leadership in global health, we’ve taken an important step towards that goal. This summit is a powerful example of what can be achieved when we act collectively to control the pandemic and save lives.”
The foundation also called on high-income countries to share at least 1 billion excess COVID-19 vaccines with lower-income countries as soon as possible. High-income countries have reserved more COVID-19 vaccines than they need, and thus can be part of a critical effort to accelerate global vaccine access by sharing excess doses, without compromising their own vaccination efforts. This will allow lower-income countries to immunize hundreds of millions of health workers and at-risk people this year—saving lives, reducing the risk of new variants emerging, and helping control the pandemic.
Today’s funding and dose sharing commitments from donors will accelerate equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines to fill an immediate need for vaccine doses in lower-income countries. In order to increase overall supply, pharmaceutical companies must continue transferring technology to qualified manufacturers, and companies and countries should cooperate on supply chains for materials. The world must also begin to build solutions that distribute manufacturing capacity more equitably, including on the African continent and in other low- and middle-income countries.
Today’s announcement builds on $156 million in previous commitments by the foundation to the COVAX AMC. The foundation’s total commitment to the COVID-19 response is now more than $1.8 billion. This funding has supported the development of tests, treatments, and vaccines for COVID-19; the delivery of these tools to low- and middle-income countries; country-specific and regional responses in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia; and global efforts to design and implement testing, tracing, and other urgent public health actions.
The COVAX AMC is part of the vaccines pillar of the Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator and is co-led by Gavi, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, and the World Health Organization. These organizations are working with UNICEF, governments, and manufacturers to ensure COVID-19 vaccines are available worldwide to both high-income and lower-income countries.
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