The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, on Thursday, pledged $1.6 billion to GAVI, the global vaccine alliance, to immunise 300 million children in the world’s poorest countries by 2025.
The foundation said in a statement released on Friday that the pledge, which is a five years commitment, was made at the Global Vaccine Summit, hosted by British Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
The summit was aimed at raising funds for Gavi’s efforts to immunise children amid the coronavirus crisis.
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.
The foundation said 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.
“Today’s pledge also includes $75 million to the Gavi Matching Fund that was announced in January 2020, it stated.
At the end of the meeting, $8.8 billion was raised from world leaders and companies.
The foundation said funding secured for Gavi’s next strategic period will help the alliance reach an additional 300 million children in the world’s most vulnerable communities and save up to eight million lives, bringing the total number of children immunised 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,” it stated.
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 twenty years, it has transformed the way the world invests in and protects the health of its children.”
Mrs Gates said “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.”
GAVI has been working closely with developing country governments, vaccine suppliers, donors, and other partners around the world and have been achieving results.
Yet, despite this unprecedented progress, one in ten children still did not receive basic vaccines in 2018.
Also, COVID-19 has disrupted 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.
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,”
Mr Gates said when COVID-19 vaccines are ready, the 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 immunised more than three-quarters of a billion children, saved 13 million lives, and cut child mortality in half in supported countries.
Also, Chair of the Gavi Board, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, said as with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic disrupting vaccine programmes across the globe and causing huge economic damage, the pledge will play a vital role in supporting countries’ efforts to prevent the resurgence of other deadly, vaccine-preventable diseases.