Gates Foundation, EU governments donate millions of dollars to provide COVID-19 vaccines to poor countries

COVID-19 vaccine booster shots
Image source: FDA

In a bid to develop and deliver  COVID-19 vaccines that will be supplied to everyone including those in poor countries, European governments and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation committed to providing hundreds of millions of dollars to achieve this goal.

World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus emphasized that the access of low and middle-income countries to vaccines against the COVID-19 is crucial given the consequences of the pandemic.

“As global public goods, COVID vaccines, therapeutics, and diagnostics must be available on the basis of equitable and affordable access for all, especially for health workers, the elderly, and other at-risk groups,” Ghebreyesus said Thursday at the Paris Peace Forum, where the pledges were announced.

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Ghebreyesus said this is an “economic imperative,” not just a moral or a public health need, as it is in the interest of countries all over the world.

“In our interconnected world if people in low- and middle-income countries miss out on vaccines, the virus will continue spreading and the economic recovery globally will be delayed. Equitable access is in the national interest of each and every country. Vaccine nationalism will prolong the pandemic, not shorten it; making vaccine work requires a broad collaboration, not just across sectors, but across partners. No country can address these challenges alone,” Tedros added.

Getting closer to having the resources needed to fight COVID-19

The money will be received by a WHO program called ACT-Accelerator which coordinates vaccine development and distribution efforts. That includes COVAX, a ground-breaking global collaboration to accelerate the development, production, and equitable access to COVID-19 tests, treatments, and vaccines.

France and the European Union’s executive commission each committed about $118 million for the WHO vaccine efforts. Spain pledged about $59 million while the Gates Foundation promised $70 million.

“COVID-19 anywhere is COVID-19 everywhere,” Melinda Gates said in a statement. “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.”

Other European governments including Germany have already pledged similar funds. The new funds are on top of the financial assistance that countries previously contributed to COVAX.


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