Bengaluru — The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation on Thursday pledged an additional $250m to support the development of low-cost and easier-to-deliver treatments and vaccines against Covid-19.

The foundation’s latest contribution, its largest to date, comes on top of the $70m it added in November. This brings its total commitments to the global pandemic response to $1.75bn, the foundation said.

“Whether [the world] gets better for everyone depends on the actions of the world’s leaders and their commitment to deliver tests, treatments and vaccines to the people who need them,” said Melinda Gates, co-chair of the Gates Foundation.

The contribution will also support the delivery of tests and vaccines in low- and middle-income countries, the foundation added.

On Tuesday, Britain became the first country to roll out a Covid-19 vaccine with a 90-year-old woman receiving the first shot of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.

Canada approved the same vaccine on Wednesday, while the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said it met its expectations for emergency-use authorisation ahead of a Thursday meeting of outside experts, who will discuss whether to recommend it.

However, Pfizer’s vaccine does face challenges, especially in lower-income countries because of its ultra-cold storage requirements. It must be shipped and stored at -70°C, significantly below the standard for vaccines of 2-8°C.

“We have new drugs and more potential vaccines than we could have expected at the start of the year. But these innovations will only save lives if they get out into the world,” said Bill Gates, co-chair of the Gates Foundation.

Another US drugmaker, Moderna, which has said its vaccine is 94.5% effective in an interim analysis, has already applied for authorisation in the US and EU. 



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