The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Wellcome each pledged US$150 million for to help end the COVID-19 crisis, prepare for future pandemics, and address epidemic threats.
The total sum, $300 million will go to the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), a global partnership founded five years ago that co-leads Covax, the initiative to distribute Covid vaccines across the developing world.
The pledges come ahead of a global replenishment conference in March to support CEPI’s visionary five-year plan to better prepare for, prevent, and equitably respond to future epidemics and pandemics.
“As the world responds to the challenge of a rapidly evolving virus, the need to deliver new, lifesaving tools has never been more urgent,” said Bill Gates, co-chair of the Gates Foundation. “Our work over the past 20 years has taught us that early investment in research and development can save lives and prevent worst-case scenarios. Five years ago, following the Ebola and Zika epidemics, our foundation helped launch CEPI. Today, we’re increasing our commitment and pledging an additional $150 million to help CEPI accelerate the development of safe and effective vaccines against emerging variants of the coronavirus and to prepare for, and possibly even prevent, the next pandemic.”
Dr. Jeremy Farrar, director of Wellcome siad the overriding lesson from the pandemic remains the need for effective organizations and systems to be in place and ready before a crisis, as well as acting rapidly based on well-established science when such crises inevitably occur.
“Our new commitment of $150 million recognizes the enormous potential CEPI has to protect lives against emerging infectious diseases. The effects of COVID-19 have been sobering. We urge leaders to provide their support and ensure that CEPI reaches its funding target. It is in the world’s collective interest to avoid repeating mistakes and to help future generations prevent epidemics,”Farrar said.
Beyond COVID-19, CEPI has filled a vital gap in supporting vaccine equity alongside R&D. CEPI is currently supporting the research and development of accessible vaccines against other infectious diseases, including the first-ever vaccines to reach clinical trials against the deadly Nipah and Lassa viruses. The organization has also played a critical role in efforts to end Ebola, including supporting the development of a second Ebola vaccine by Janssen. In addition to advancing the science underlying vaccine development and new vaccine platforms, CEPI is focused on dramatically reducing the time it takes to develop lifesaving vaccines against any new viral threat (referred to as “Disease X”)—to within 100 days of a pathogen being sequenced. This represents a combination of scale and speed that could save millions of lives and trillions of dollars.