Gates Foundation adds $70 mln more funding for COVID vaccines for poor

Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation pledges $70 million to battle against coronavirus and ‘to ensure that everyone gets equal access’ to a vaccine

  • Money will go to helping global efforts to develop and distribute the vaccine
  • It will be distributed between organisations working on Covid-19 treatments
  • Last week, Pfizer announced its vaccine had proven to be 90 percent effective
  • The company will soon submit a request to the FDA for emergency authorization 

The Bill and Melinda Gates foundation has pledged $70 million to battle against coronavirus and ‘to ensure that everyone gets equal access’ to a vaccine. 

Announcing the funds of Thursday, it said the money would go towards global efforts to develop and distribute vaccines and treatments against the COVID-19 pandemic, adding it hoped other international donors would now also pledge more.

An extra $50 million will go to the COVAX Advance Market Commitment (AMC) led by the GAVI vaccine alliance, the foundation said.

Another $20 million will go to the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) which is co-funding development of several COVID-19 vaccine candidates.

The Bill and Melinda Gates foundation have added another $70 million of funding on Thursday to global efforts to distribute the vaccine and treatments against COVID-19 worldwide

‘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,’ the foundation’s co-chair Melinda Gates said in a statement. 

‘Our pledge today… means we are getting closer to having the resources needed to help the world fight this virus.’

Along with the World Health Organization, CEPI and GAVI are co-leading a global scheme known as the Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator which aims to speed up development, production and fair access to COVID-19 drugs, tests and vaccines.

GAVI has said the COVAX facility, which is part of the scheme, aims to have secured 2 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines by the end of 2021. 

It says doses will be made available to people in all COVAX participating countries, with almost a billion doses available to the 92 poorest countries through the Advanced Market Commitment (AMC).

Preliminary positive data this week from trials of two potential COVID-19 shots – one from Pfizer and BioNtech and one developed in Russia – are encouraging signs that the first vaccines against the pandemic disease may be ready to be deployed before the end of 2020.

Mark Suzman, the Gates Foundation’s chief executive officer, told reporters in an online briefing that this was ‘an auspicious week’ to be adding to global funding efforts.

Last week, Pfizer announced the vaccine it was funding had proven to be 90 percent effective in giving immunity to 94 people in a study

The vaccine news ‘makes us hopeful about a number of the other vaccine products in the pipeline,’ he said. 

‘But there’s still a long way to go between that and getting vaccines approved (by regulators), and then into people who need them at the scale and with the kind of equitable global distribution we really need to bring the virus under control.’

The Gates Foundation began pledging funds for the vaccines AMC in June, and the extra $50 million brings its total pledges to $156 million. 

The new funds will also unlock an extra 12.5 million pounds ($16.5 mln) from Britain, which had promised to part-match other contributions. ($1 = 0.7571 pounds).

According to the Johns Hopkins University coronavirus tracker, there have been over 52,880,000 cases of the coronavirus globally, as well as almost 1,300,000 related deaths.

Last week, Pfizer announced the vaccine it was funding had proven to be 90 percent effective in giving immunity to 94 people in a study. 

Pfizer’s vaccine announcement has given rise to a new wave of anti-vaxxers who say they won’t take it for a range of reasons

The company will submit a request to the FDA for emergency authorization once it has run other tests to determine the vaccine’s safety and whether or not it can be produced to mass scale safely. 

Anti-vaxxers have for months poured scorn on the many vaccines that are being worked on around the world. 

Among the more serious concerns about Pfizer’s vaccine is that uses mRNA which trains tells the immune system to target spike protein rather than injecting people with the virus itself.

The technology has never been used in a human vaccine before. 

While Pfizer says it is still carrying out tests into safety, it has largely been proven to be safe and effective. 

Some are still nervous about it and that they’ll only get it after politicians and big pharma bosses do. 

Alongside the traditional fears that it may not be safe and is unnatural, others are claiming that it should be avoided for non-scientific reasons. 

They alleged that Pfizer, because it had received funding in the past from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, was working on behalf of the Microsoft founder. 

Among the most extreme claims in that school of thought is that Gates created the pandemic to then create a vaccine and that he wants to implant microchips in the world’s population to keep track of them.   

He previously dismissed the conspiracy theory and said he hoped it would die down but the Pfizer announcement – the most promising to come from any of the firms working on a vaccine – revitalized it. 

Others say it is merely an effort by big pharma to make money and that they want to wait several years to observe the side effects of it. 

Some – including some politicians – say the timing of the announcement is highly suspicious just two days after the presidential election was called for Joe Biden. 

They are not necessarily undermining the safety or efficacy of the vaccine, but say it was deliberately delayed so President Trump could not claim it as a victory of his presidency. 

Among those critics was Trump’s son, Donald Trump Jr.  and Republican Senator Ted Cruz. 

The majority of Americans say they would get the vaccine.

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