Roselyne Sachiti, Features, Health and Society
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation on Thursday announced a five-year, US$1.6 billion commitment to Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, to deliver lifesaving vaccines to the world’s poorest countries.
The commitment was announced at the Global Vaccine Summit 2020, hosted by Prime Minister Boris Johnson of the United Kingdom.
In a media release, the Gates Foundation said the funding secured Thursday for Gavi’s next strategic period will help the Alliance reach an additional 300 million children in the world’s most vulnerable communities.
Moreover, it will save up to eight million lives, bringing the total number of children immunized with Gavi support to more than one billion since its inception in 2000.
In addition to supporting the continuation of routine immunization services during the current COVID-19 crisis, Gavi will play a vital role in efforts to end the pandemic, leveraging its two decades of experience in vaccine delivery to deploy potential COVID-19 vaccines to low income countries when they become available.
“Not many people outside the global health sector have heard about Gavi, but over the past 20 years, it has transformed the way the world invests in and protects the health of its children,” said Melinda Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
“If the current pandemic has reminded us of anything, it’s the importance of vaccinating against deadly diseases. The pledges that leaders are making today will help Gavi save even more lives.”
Working closely with developing country governments, vaccine suppliers, donors, and other partners around the world, the Alliance has achieved extraordinary results.
Yet, despite this unprecedented progress, one in ten children still did not receive basic vaccines in 2018. In addition, as COVID-19 disrupts health systems, supply chains, and the ability of health workers to safely reach communities, millions more are at risk of missing out on protection against vaccine-preventable diseases.
“To beat the COVID-19 pandemic, the world needs more than breakthrough science. It needs breakthrough generosity. And that’s what we’re seeing today as leaders across the public and private sectors are stepping up to support Gavi – especially Prime Minister Johnson,” said Bill Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
“When COVID-19 vaccines are ready, this funding and global coordination will ensure that people all over the world will be able to access them.”
The foundation has supported Gavi since its founding more than two decades ago. In that time, Gavi has immunized more than three-quarters of a billion children, saved 13 million lives, and cut child mortality in half in supported countries.
“As we enter one of the toughest periods in our history, with the COVID-19 pandemic disrupting vaccine programmes across the globe and causing huge economic damage, this pledge will play a vital role in supporting countries’ efforts to prevent the resurgence of other deadly, vaccine-preventable diseases.” said Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Chair of the Gavi Board.
The Gates Foundation is also committing $100 million to Gavi’s new effort to purchase COVID-19 vaccines for lower income countries through a new COVID-19 Vaccine Advance Market Commitment. This includes $50 million of new funding announced today, as well as the foundation’s $50 million pledge that was made at the Coronavirus Global Response International Pledging Event in May.
Thursday’s pledge also includes $75 million to the Gavi Matching Fund that was announced in January 2020.