Gates Pledges $10 Billion for Vaccines Research
3 February 2010 at 3:36 pm
Bill and Melinda Gates have announced that their foundation will commit $10 billion over the next 10 years to help research, develop and deliver vaccines for the world’s poorest countries.
The couple says that increased investment in vaccines by governments and the private sector could help developing countries dramatically reduce child mortality by the end of the decade, and they called for others to help fill critical financing gaps in both research funding and childhood immunization programs.
Bill and Melinda Gates made their announcement at the World Economic Forum’s Annual Meeting in Davos, Switzerland.
The Foundation used a model developed by a consortium led by the Institute of International Programs at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health to project the potential impact of vaccines on childhood deaths over the next 10 years.
By significantly scaling up the delivery of life-saving vaccines in developing countries to 90 percent coverage—including new vaccines to prevent severe diarrhoea and pneumonia—the model suggests that they could prevent the deaths of some 7.6 million children under 5 from 2010-2019.
The foundation also estimates that an additional 1.1 million children could be saved with the rapid introduction of a malaria vaccine beginning in 2014, bringing the total number of potential lives saved to 8.7 million.
The Foundation says if additional vaccines are developed and introduced in this decade—such as for tuberculosis—even more lives could be saved.
The new funding is in addition to the $4.5 billion that the Gates Foundation has already committed to vaccine research, development and delivery to date across its entire disease portfolio since its inception.
Many of the recent advances in vaccine development and delivery have been driven by public-private partnerships such as the GAVI Alliance and the Rotavirus Vaccine Program at PATH, which coordinate the resources and expertise of vaccine companies, donors, UNICEF, WHO, the World Bank, and developing countries.
Bill Gates says these partnerships are “transforming the business of vaccines.”
The Gates Foundation says the new funding commitment will support a broad spectrum of vaccine-related activities, from basic research to innovations in delivery. However, billions more are needed from other donors to achieve the goal of 90 percent coverage of childhood immunization.
It says critical funding gaps exist at GAVI and in the global polio and measles programs, and more support is needed for the research and development necessary to produce new vaccines.
Commenting on the funding announcement, WHO Director-General Margaret Chan said the Gates Foundation’s commitment to vaccines is unprecedented, but just a small part of what is needed.