The total funding to the global vaccine alliance, Gavi, on COVID-19 response has surpassed $1.8 billion after the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation pledged a fresh $50 million (Kes5.4 bn) in finances.
The funds will go into buying Covid-19 vaccines under Gavi’s COVAX advance market commitment (AMC) and help deliver them to about 91 poor countries.
Gavi had initially received $156 million from the foundation.
The new financing was unveiled at Gavi’s COVAX AMC summit co-hosted by Japan and Gavi where global leaders, the private sector, civil society, and technical partners gathered to build support to procure COVID-19 vaccines and distribute them to poor countries.
“The world must urgently come together to expand equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines, or we risk more deaths and the emergence of new variants that could prolong the pandemic for everyone,” said Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation CEO Mark Suzman.
“Thanks to today’s contributions, especially Japan’s generous pledge and its leadership in global health, we’ve taken an important step towards that goal. This summit is a powerful example of what can be achieved when we act collectively to control the pandemic and save lives.”
The foundation is also asking high-income countries to share one billion excess COVID-19 vaccines in their stocks with lower-income countries as soon as possible to ramp up vaccinations.
If heeded, the move will see poor countries inoculate millions of healthcare workers and vulnerable people, saving lives, reducing the risk of new variants emerging, and tackling the pandemic.
Globally, slightly over 437 million people have been fully vaccinated against Covid-19, representing 5.6 per cent of the fully vaccinated population.
In Africa, over 23 million vaccinations have been administered with Kenya so far giving over 970,000 doses of vaccine and fully vaccinating just over 200 people against the virus.