The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Wellcome, a global charitable foundation, have each pledged $150 million to the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), a five-year-old partnership between the two charitable foundations, the governments of Norway and India, and the World Economic Forum.
The promises come ahead of a worldwide conference to promote CEPI’s five-year strategy to better prepare for, prevent, and respond to future epidemics and pandemics in a fair and equitable manner.
On Thursday, Bill Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, stated, “As the world responds to the challenge of a rapidly evolving virus, the need to deliver new, lifesaving tools has never been more urgent.”
“Our work over the last two decades has taught us that investing in research and development early can save lives and prevent worst-case scenarios.” Following the Ebola and Zika outbreaks five years ago, our foundation aided in the establishment of CEPI. In a statement, Gates said, “Today, we’re 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.”
CEPI produced one of the world’s largest and most diversified portfolios of Covid vaccine candidates when the pandemic began, according to the statement—14 in all, six of which are still receiving funding and three of which have been awarded emergency-use status by the World Health Organization.
CEPI was one of the first investors in the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine’s development. The WHO listed Novavax’s protein-based Covid-19 vaccine, which was primarily financed by CEPI, as an emergency-use vaccine last month. Covax, a worldwide project aimed at ensuring equal access to coronavirus vaccinations, now has access to more than 1 billion doses of the vaccine. CEPI is also working on next-generation Covid-19 vaccines, including “variant-proof” vaccinations, which protect against all coronaviruses and might eliminate the threat of future coronavirus pandemics.
“Our new $150 million commitment recognizes CEPI’s enormous potential to protect lives against emerging infectious diseases,” said Wellcome director Dr. Jeremy Farrar, who encouraged international leaders to guarantee CEPI meets its financial goal. “It is in the world’s collective interest to avoid making the same mistakes we have made in the past and to assist future generations in preventing epidemics,” he added.