The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation today announced it will commit an additional $250 million to support the research, development, and equitable delivery of lifesaving tools in the global effort against COVID-19. Marking the end of a year focused on the scientific breakthroughs needed to end the pandemic, the foundation calls for global commitments to making these innovations available in 2021 to everyone who needs them.
“Everyone, everywhere deserves to benefit from the science developed in 2020,” said Melinda Gates, co-chair of the Gates Foundation. “We are confident that the world will get better in 2021, but whether it gets better for everyone depends on the actions of the world’s leaders and their commitment to deliver tests, treatments, and vaccines to the people who need them, no matter where they live or how much money they have.”
Today’s commitment, the foundation’s largest single contribution to the COVID-19 response to date, builds on the partnerships and expertise it has established over the last 20 years. This funding will support continued innovation to develop tests, treatments, and vaccines that are easier to scale and deliver, to ensure there are many options that are less expensive and can be used in different settings. Today’s commitment will also support the delivery of new COVID-19 tests, treatments, and vaccines, particularly in low- and middle-income countries.
Getting these innovations to where they are needed will require the same level of planning, urgency, and collaboration it took to develop them. It will require manufacturing tests, doses of treatments, and vaccines quickly and safely; securing sufficient funding to buy and distribute them; organizing logistical infrastructure and supply chains; preparing clinics and health workers to administer them; and sharing accurate information with communities so people understand and trust what they are receiving.
Part of today’s funding will enable countries to use cutting-edge technology and delivery systems to plan and implement the rollout of vaccines. It will also support efforts to engage communities in the process to increase trust and improve communication about new COVID-19 interventions.
“Thanks to the ingenuity of the global scientific community, we are achieving the exciting medical breakthroughs needed to end the pandemic,” said Bill Gates, co-chair of the Gates Foundation. “We have new drugs and more potential vaccines than we could have expected at the start of the year. But these innovations will only save lives if they get out into the world.”
As the world prepares to embark on a global logistical challenge previously unmatched in scale and complexity, it can draw on the expertise of global organizations like Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance and the Global Fund, which have collaborated with governments to deliver vaccines, tests, and treatments against infectious diseases to people in lower-income countries for 20 years. “Fortunately, reaching people with lifesaving tools is something the world knows how to do,” said Melinda Gates.
“The next phase of fighting this pandemic will be much costlier than the initial development of safe and effective vaccines. Our commitment today is only a fraction of what is needed and will be focused on the areas where philanthropy can best add value,” said Gates Foundation CEO Mark Suzman. “Every institution with a role to play has to be generous now. Multilateral organizations, national governments, companies, and philanthropies – we all must invest in making sure the tests, drugs, and vaccines reach as many people as possible.”
Today’s announcement brings the foundation’s total commitments to the global COVID-19 response to $1.75 billion. This draws from three sources, including new funding commitments above the foundation’s planned annual program budget; at-risk financing from the foundation’s Strategic Investment Fund; and a portion of funds channeled from foundation programs where grantees identified urgent needs or had unique expertise to mitigate the effects of the pandemic.