By CATHERINE THORBECKE, ABC News
(NEW YORK) — After news broke earlier this week of a promising development in a COVID-19 vaccine, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation announced Thursday it would commit an additional $70 million to make sure vaccines are available for everyone — not just those who could afford them.
“COVID-19 anywhere is COVID-19 everywhere,” Melinda Gates, co-chair of the foundation, said in a statement. “That is why 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.”
The foundation pledged $50 million to the COVAX Advance Market Commitment group, an arm of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, and a $20 million grant to the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations.
Gavi and CEPI are co-leading the vaccine efforts for the Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator, a global group that aims to advance equitable access to COVID-19 tests, treatments and vaccines, according to the foundation.
The financial commitment from the American philanthropy group comes as news broke earlier this week of a major development in a coronavirus vaccine. Pfizer and partner Biontech said Monday that its COVID-19 vaccine was 90% effective based on early analysis, ushering in new optimism that the cataclysmic global pandemic could soon come to an end.
The Pfizer and BioNTech vaccine, however, faces many costly hurdles in distribution because it requires special ultra-low-temperature freezers that aren’t found at typical doctor’s offices — an issue that led many to speculate their could be disparities in its administration.
In the U.S., multiple reports have already indicated disparities with the virus, as well as even with access to testing for it, between low-income communities and wealthier areas.
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