As Covid-19 cases continue to increase in developing countries, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has donated $150 million to the world’s largest vaccine manufacturer, Serum Institute of India, to provide up to 100 million Covid-19 vaccine doses to poorer nations priced at less than $3 a dose.
- Gates and his foundation have been the subject of multiple coronavirus-related conspiracy theories — including that they intend to use a vaccine to implant tracking devices in billions of people — that he and his foundation have denied.
- Coronavirus has been spreading rapidly in developing and middle-income countries, including Brazil, India, South Africa, Mexico, Peru, Chile and Colombia, and epidemiologists think their cases numbers are underreported.
- The foundation has now given a total of $350 million to speed up the development of treatments, vaccines and public health measures to fight the coronavirus pandemic.
- The $150 million donation was made through Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, an organization that negotiates and finances vaccines for low-income and middle-income countries.
- The money will allow Serum Institute of India to begin manufacturing vaccines from its partners, biopharmaceutical companies AstraZeneca and Novavax, so they will be readily available if they are approved, the institute said in a statement.
- Gavi is co-leading COVAX, an initiative with the World Health Organization and the Coalition of Epidemic Preparedness Innovations that aims to deliver 2 billion doses of approved Covid-19 vaccines by the end of 2021.
“Too many times we’ve seen the most vulnerable countries left at the back of the queue when it comes to new treatments, new diagnostics and new vaccines,” Gavi CEO Dr. Seth Berkley said in a statement. “With COVID-19 vaccines we want things to be different. If only the wealthiest countries in the world are protected, then international trade, commerce and society as a whole will continue to be hit hard as the pandemic continues to rage across the globe. This new collaboration is an important step in our efforts to prevent this from happening, helping to ensure we have additional manufacturing capacity to begin producing doses for every country, not just the wealthy few.”
Researchers around the world are developing more than 165 vaccines against the coronavirus, according to a New York Times report, and 28 vaccines are in human trials. Although vaccines normally require years of research and testing before approval, scientists hope to produce a safe and effective vaccine by 2021. The Chinese company CanSino Biologics developed a vaccine that the Chinese military approved on June 25 for a year as a “specially needed drug.” Serum Institute of India has partnered with AstraZeneca and Novavax. UK-based AstraZeneca has promised to provide more than 2 billion doses of its vaccine worldwide, including 1 billion doses for low-income and middle-income countries, and has already agreed to sell it to the U.S. and Europe if the vaccine developed by University of Oxford researchers is approved. U.S.-based Novavax received $1.6 billion from the federal government to fund late-stage development of its experimental vaccine and announced “positive” results in its first preliminary trial in humans Tuesday.
Gates has advocated for pandemic preparedness for years and gave a TED talk in 2015 that warned of the death toll a worldwide pandemic could create.
28%. That is how many U.S. adults believed a debunked conspiracy theory suggesting Gates planned to use a potential vaccine for Covid-19 to implant microchips in billions of people to monitor their movements, according to a May Yahoo News/YouGov survey.