The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Friday expanded its funding for the global response to COVID-19 with an additional $150 million funding grant and a commitment to leverage the resources of the foundation’s strategic investment fund. The new funding brings to $250 million the Foundation commitment till date.
The foundation also called on world leaders to unite in a global response to COVID-19 to ensure equitable access to diagnostics, treatments, and vaccines.
Gates Foundation co-chair Melinda Gates said: “It is increasingly clear that the world’s response to this pandemic will not be effective unless it is also equitable.
We have a responsibility to meet this global crisis with global solidarity. In addition to contributing to the development of diagnostics, therapeutics, and vaccines, these funds will support efforts against COVID-19 in low-and-middle-income countries, where local leaders and healthcare workers are doing heroic work to protect vulnerable communities and slow the spread of the disease.”
She explained that the foundation’s new $150 million commitment will fund the development of diagnostics, therapeutics, and vaccines, as well as new efforts to provide partners in Africa and South Asia with resources to scale their COVID-19 detection, treatment, and isolation efforts.
The foundation will also leverage a portion of its $2.5 billion Strategic Investment Fund, which uses a suite of financial tools to address market failures and incentivize private enterprise to develop affordable and accessible health products.
The funds would be used to help health systems in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) facilitate the rapid procurement of personal protective equipment for health care workers, COVID-19 diagnostics, oxygen therapeutics, and other essential medical supplies.
On his part, Bill Gates said: “COVID-19 doesn’t obey border laws. Even if most countries succeed in slowing the disease over the next few months, the virus could return if the pandemic remains severe enough elsewhere.
The world community must understand that so long as COVID-19 is somewhere, we need to act as if it were everywhere. Beating this pandemic will require an unprecedented level of international funding and cooperation.”
While there is not yet global consensus on the total resources required to turn back COVID-19, the figure is more than any one contributor will bear. A coordinated, international effort bringing together all sectors will be required to mobilize the billions in funding needed in the months ahead.
The Foundation CEO Mark Suzman said: “This pandemic has unleashed an extraordinary philanthropic response. While significant, it is still only one small part of what must be a coordinated effort to beat this global crisis.
Philanthropy cannot and should not supplant the public and private sectors. What philanthropy is good at is testing out ideas that might not otherwise get tried, so governments and businesses can then take on the successful ones. With all sectors working together, we can avoid the worst-case scenarios of human, economic, and social costs.”
The foundation further Identified four priority areas for investment:; accelerating virus detection, protecting the most vulnerable , minimizing social and economic Impact and develop products for a sustained response.
The foundation will work with national governments and international organizations such as the WHO; UNICEF; Gavi; and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria to ensure that LMICs have equitable access to essential commodities and to ensure that supply and distribution chains are well prepared to facilitate their rapid and widespread delivery to Gavi- and Global Fund-eligible countries.