Bill and Melinda Gates want to make sure that vaccines for Covid-19 are distributed to people all over the world, including in low-income countries.
Forbes reported that to that end, Melinda Gates announced Thursday that the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is committing $70 million to develop and deliver affordable vaccines to low- and middle-income countries. The new funding follows more than $350 million in pledges made earlier this year by the foundation to fund development of Covid-19 diagnostics, treatments and vaccines.
“Covid-19 anywhere is Covid-19 everywhere,” Melinda Gates said in a statement about the new commitment. “That is why 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.” She made the announcement at the Paris Peace Forum on Thursday, an event convening heads of state, international organizations and private sector leaders to discuss the global response to the pandemic.
According to Forbes, the funding continues the couple’s global focus on addressing the pandemic. “We’re trying to stitch different country efforts together,” Melinda Gates said at the Forbes Philanthropy Summit in June.
Of the newly promised $70 million, $50 million will go to the Covax Advance Market Committee of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance; the committee is a financing mechanism through which Gavi works to secure equitable access to Covid-19 vaccines for 92 low- and middle-income countries. The donation will unlock an additional $16 million from the U.K. government, part of a commitment the country made to match some donations to the committee.
The remaining $20 million of the Gates Foundation’s new funding is a grant to the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, a foundation that coordinates the development of new vaccines. The funding will support research and development of a new slate of Covid-19 vaccines. The goal is for the next wave of vaccines to have greater potential for low-cost production and temperature stability, to make them better suited for distribution in lower income countries.
The Gateses have been focused on virus prevention and treatment long before much of the rest of the world realized the possible ripple effects of a pandemic. Earlier this year, Bill Gates drew praise for a prescient 2015 Ted talk entitled “The next outbreak? We’re not ready.”
The Gates Foundation is the world’s largest private charitable foundation, with a trust endowment of $49.8 billion. The foundation has made nearly $55 billion in grants from its inception in 2000 through the end of 2019. Bill Gates—currently the world’s third-richest person, with an estimated $118.5 billion net worth—has donated about $36 billion to the foundation over the years. Since 2006, Warren Buffett, a longtime friend of Bill and Melinda Gates, has donated about $26 billion worth of Berkshire Hathaway shares to the Gates Foundation and the trust that supports it.