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COVID-19: Bill & Milinda Gates expand commitment with additional $150m

Even with criticisms trailing its activities in Africa, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Friday expanded its funding for the global response to COVID-19 with an additional $150 million funding grant.

It also made 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.” According to her, 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.

She further disclosed that the Foundation will 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, according to her, 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.

This latest funding announced builds on the $100 million the foundation has committed to date to support the global response. 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’s Chief Executive Officer, Mark Suzman had these to say: “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”, he stated.

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