The pledge will support covid-19 vaccine purchasing through Gavi's COVAX Advance Market Commitment (AMC) as well as delivery of these vaccines to 92 lower-income countries.
The pledge was announced at Gavi’s COVAX AMC Summit, an event co-hosted by the government of Japan and Gavi that gathered world leaders, the private sector, civil society, and technical partners to build support to procure covid-19 vaccines and equitably distribute them to lower-income countries.
"The world must urgently come together to expand equitable access to covid-19 vaccines, or we risk more deaths and the emergence of new variants that could prolong the pandemic for everyone," said Mark Suzman, CEO of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, in a press release on Wednesday.
The foundation also called on high-income countries to share at least 1 billion excess covid-19 vaccines with lower-income countries as soon as possible.
High-income countries have reserved more covid-19 vaccines than they need, and thus can be part of a critical effort to accelerate global vaccine access by sharing excess doses, without compromising their own vaccination efforts.
This will allow lower-income countries to immunize hundreds of millions of health workers and at-risk people this year—saving lives, reducing the risk of new variants emerging, and helping control the pandemic.
The announcement builds on $156 million in previous commitments by the foundation to the COVAX AMC. The foundation’s total commitment to the covid-19 response is now more than $1.8 billion.
The COVAX AMC is part of the vaccines pillar of the Access to Covid-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator and is co-led by Gavi, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, and the World Health Organization. These organizations are working with UNICEF, governments, and manufacturers to ensure covid-19 vaccines are available worldwide to both high-income and lower-income countries.