Gates Foundation announces new funds to develop COVID-19 vaccines and increase access to affordable vaccines in low-income countries

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation today will announce new commitments totaling $70 million to global efforts to develop and distribute safe, affordable, and timely vaccines for low- and middle-income countries.

Melinda Gates, co-chair of the Gates Foundation, will make the announcement at the Paris Peace Forum, where heads of state, international organizations, and leaders from civil society and the private sector will gather to discuss the collective response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Gates will say the foundation will commit an additional $50 million to the COVAX Advance Market Commitment (AMC) of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, a financing mechanism through which Gavi aims to secure equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines for 92 low- and middle-income countries. The foundation’s pledge to the AMC will unlock an additional £12.5 million (approximately US $16.2 million) from the UK government, which in September committed to matching other contributions to the AMC.

Gates will also announce a $20 million grant to the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) to advance research and jumpstart the development for an additional slate of promising vaccine candidates as the first wave conclude their clinical trials and file for approval. Because they have greater potential for large-scale manufacturability, temperature stability, and low-cost production, this next group of candidate vaccines may be better suited to the needs of low- and middle-income settings and, therefore, able to increase equitable access to affordable vaccines.

“COVID-19 anywhere is COVID-19 everywhere. That is why we have to ensure that everyone gets equal access to tests, drugs, and vaccines when they are available—no matter where you live in the world,” said Gates. “Our pledge today, alongside the generous commitments made by France, the European Commission, and Spain, means we are getting closer to having the resources needed to help the world fight this virus. But we still have a long way to go.”

CEPI and Gavi are co-leading the vaccine efforts of the Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator, a global collaboration to accelerate the development and production of, and equitable access to, COVID-19 tests, treatments, and vaccines. Today’s commitments build on months of global momentum to mobilize the billions of dollars needed to finance the development of new COVID-19 tools, manufacture them at scale, and deliver them equitably.

“Ending this pandemic will require the largest public health effort in history. It will have to be well-coordinated, well-funded, and global,” said Mark Suzman, CEO of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. “Everyone owes a debt of gratitude to the nations that have contributed to the ACT Accelerator, but—to be candid—this isn’t enough. The effort needs more funding. It will be a lot of money, but pocket change compared to the cost of a longer, deadlier pandemic.”

Today’s announcement brings the foundation’s total commitment to Gavi’s COVAX AMC to $156 million.

Until safe and effective vaccines are available, diagnostic tests and therapeutics will remain vital tools to fight the pandemic and save lives. On Tuesday, the foundation was part of an agreement announced by LumiraDx and the Africa Medical Supplies Platform to increase the availability of connected rapid diagnostic tests in African countries.

The foundation’s overall commitment to the ACT Accelerator is $226 million: $50 million to the Therapeutics Accelerator, announced on March 10, $106 million to Gavi’s COVAX AMC announced on June 4, and today’s additional pledges of $50 million to Gavi’s COVAX AMC and $20 million to CEPI. The foundation was also part of an agreement among ACT Accelerator partners to increase access to COVID-19 rapid diagnostic tests announced on September 28.

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