Beating COVID-19 Pandemic Requires More Than Breakthrough Science – Gates

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Co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Mr Bill GateS has said beating the COVID-19 pandemic would require more efforts that look beyond scientific breakthroughs. He said it would require ‘breakthrough generosity’ akin to what global leaders are already doing.

This is as the Gates Foundation announced a $1.6 support pledge to the Global Alliance for Vaccine and Immunization (GAVI) to ensure the vaccination of 300 million children in the world’s poorest countries by 2025.

In a statement announcing this, Mr Gates 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.”

The five-year commitment was made at the Global Vaccine Summit, convened by British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson to raise funds for Gavi’s efforts to vaccinate world’s children faced by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The foundation also pledged another $100 million to Gavi’s efforts 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. It 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.

Speaking on the need for this kind of supports, 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.

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.

Co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Melinda Gates, 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.”

She 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.”

A child being vaccinated in Africa …Photo: Unicef

GAVI has been working closely with developing country governments, vaccine suppliers, donors, and other partners around the world and have been achieving results. 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.

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.

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