The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation on Thursday announced a five-year $1.6 billion commitment to Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, to deliver life-saving 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 UK.
The funding, secured for Gavi’s next strategic period is to help the alliance reach an additional 300 million children in the world’s most vulnerable communities.
It will also save up to eight million lives, bringing the total number of children immunized with Gavi’s support to more than one billion since its inception in 2000.
In addition to supporting the continuation of routine immunisation services during the current COVID-19 crisis, Gavi will play a vital role in efforts to end the pandemic.
It is expected to leverage its two decades experience in vaccine delivery to deploy potential COVID-19 vaccines to low income countries when they become available.
In a statement, Melinda Gates, Co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation said: “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.
“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,” she said.
Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Chair of the Gavi Board, said that with the COVID-19 pandemic disrupting vaccine programmes across the globe and causing huge economic damage, the pledge would play a vital role in supporting countries’ efforts to prevent the resurgence of other deadly, vaccine-preventable diseases.
Also, Bill Gates, Co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation said: “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.
“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,’’ Gates said.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the foundation has supported Gavi since its founding more than two decades ago.
Since it was founded, Gavi has immunised more than three-quarters of a billion children, saved 13 million lives and cut child mortality in half in supported countries.
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 as well as the foundation’s $50 million pledge that was made at the Coronavirus Global Response International Pledging Event in May.
The latest pledge also includes $75 million to the Gavi Matching Fund that was announced in January this year.