Nigeria’s former Minister of Finance and Chair of the Gavi Board, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-iweala, has commended a pledge of $1.6 billion by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to help Gavi deliver lifesaving vaccines to the world’s poorest countries.
According to Okonjo-Iweala, the world is currently facing one of the toughest periods with the COVID-19 pandemic which she said has disrupted vaccines programme across the globe.
“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”, Okonjo-iweala.
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation made the pledge on Thursday, during the Global Vaccine Summit 2020, hosted by Prime Minister Boris Johnson of the United Kingdom.
The pledged sum would be the Foundation’s commitment to the Alliance over the next five years.
It is also expected that the funding secured at the event 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.
The funding, aside helping the Alliance to continue with its routine immunization services during the current COVID-19 crisis, it will also enable Gavi to 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.
Speaking during the event, Melinda Gates, co-chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, 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.
“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.”
On his part, Bill Gates, also a co-chair of the Foundation, 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.”
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has supported Gavi since its founding more than two decades ago.
A breakdown of the Foundation’s commitment shows that it is 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 at the event, as well as the foundation’s $50 million pledge that was made at the Coronavirus Global Response International Pledging Event in May. It is equally putting $75 million to the Gavi Matching Fund that was announced in January 2020.