US billionaires Bill and Melinda Gates have added $70m (£53m) of funding for development and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines that will be widely-accessible to the poor and low-income countries.
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, started by the Microsoft co-founder and his wife, former Microsoft general manager, has already given over £300m in the fight against COVID-19.
It will donate another $50m to COVAX Advance Market Commitment (AMC), led by the GAVI vaccine alliance.
As well as boasting the “largest and most diverse portfolio of COVID-19 vaccine candidates”, the AMC is focused on ensuring fair distribution — especially to low-income countries — once a vaccine becomes licensed.
The other $20m will go to the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), which has invested $23.7m in six different ARS-CoV-2 vaccines so far, the foundation said.
“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,” Melinda Gates said in a statement.
“Our pledge today means we are getting closer to having the resources needed to help the world fight this virus.”
The foundation has also worked with the CEPI and GAVI — along with the World Health Organisation and others — to form the Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator, which is aimed at speeding up development, production and fair access to tests, treatments and vaccines.
Limited doses of a coronavirus vaccine could be available by the end of the year. Pfizer (PFE) and BioNTech (BNTX) recently announced that its vaccine could be more than 90% effective, based on its study of over 43,500 people.