By Elohor Igbru
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) has revealed how it will help to end the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic which has ravaged the world for about six months now.
The Foundation revealed that it has pledged an additional $1.6billion to Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance to protect the next generation with lifesaving vaccines. Billionaire Bill Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is the major funder and promoter of Gavi.
The Vaccine Alliance was formed in the year 2000 and it claimed to have immunized “three-quarters of a billion children, saved 13 million lives, and cut child mortality in half in supported countries,” since inception.
The announcement by the Gates Foundation was made at the Global Vaccine Summit 2020, which held on Thursday and hosted by the United Kingdom Prime Minister, Boris Johnson. The new commitment, according to Gates Foundation would safeguard an additional 300 million children from the poorest countries against diseases and mitigate the consequences of COVID-19.
“Funding secured today 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 immunized with Gavi support to more than one billion since its inception in 2000,” Gates Foundation said in a statement.
Moreover, the donation will also support 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,” the Gates Foundation said.
Co-chair of the Gates Foundation, Melinda Gates said the Gavi Alliance has transformed the way the world invests in and protects the health of its children. “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. 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,” Melinda said.
Coronavirus has affected at least 6.42 million people globally while at least 383,000 people have died from the disease. Africa was predicted to be the epicentre of the virus by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and Melinda Gates with body counts mounting on the streets but the resilient continent has so far defied the odds recording just 177,143 cases with 78,219 recoveries and only 4,906 deaths as at June 6, 2020.
With the development of the vaccine, there have been clamour for the distribution of the vaccine free to low income countries. Following in that line the Gates Foundation said it 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 announced today, 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.”
Global leaders have continued to praise Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance for its pro-activeness saying it will save millions of lives. “As we enter one of the toughest periods in our history, with the COVID-19 pandemic disrupting vaccine programmes across the globe and causing huge economic damage, this pledge will play a vital role in supporting countries’ efforts to prevent the resurgence of other deadly, vaccine-preventable diseases,” said Nigeria’s Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Chair of the GAVI Board.
Bill Gates reinforcing his belief and commitment to the efficacy of vaccines 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.”