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Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Wellcome pledge $300 million to CEPI to accelerate epidemic preparedness

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The foundations call on world leaders to support the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) to help end the COVID-19 crisis, prepare for future pandemics, and address epidemic threats

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Wellcome each pledged $150 million for a total of $300 million to the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), a global partnership launched five years ago this week by the governments of Norway and India, the Gates Foundation, Wellcome, and the World Economic Forum. The pledges come ahead of a global replenishment conference in March to support CEPI’s visionary five-year plan to better prepare for, prevent, and equitably respond to future epidemics and pandemics, according to a statement from Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

The statement quoted Bill Gates, co-chair, Gates Foundation as saying, “Our work over the past 20 years has taught us that early investment in research and development can save lives and prevent worst-case scenarios. Five years ago, following the Ebola and Zika epidemics, our foundation helped launch CEPI. Today, we’re increasing our commitment and 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.”

Apart from it, the statement also quoted Dr Jeremy Farrar, Director, Wellcome, as saying that the overriding lesson from this pandemic is the need for effective organisations and systems to be in place and ready before a crisis, as well as acting rapidly based on well-established science when such crises inevitably occur.

“Our new commitment of $150 million recognises the potential CEPI has to protect lives against emerging infectious diseases. The effects of COVID-19 have been sobering. We urge leaders to provide their support and ensure that CEPI reaches its funding target. It is in the world’s collective interest to avoid repeating mistakes and to help future generations prevent epidemics,” emphasised Dr Farrar.

Adding to it, Awa Marie Coll Seck, Minister of State to the President of the Republic of Senegal, said, “Innovative global partnerships like CEPI play a critical role in advancing the R&D needed to prevent future pandemics. Importantly, those investments in vaccine technology, particularly in Africa, can also help accelerate progress against other diseases—like HIV, TB and malaria—that still affect the world’s most vulnerable populations.”

In the opinion of Melinda French Gates, co-chair, Gates Foundation, “CEPI’s investments in groundbreaking R&D, commitments to equitable access, and cooperation across the public and private sectors are vital in this effort. We call on global leaders to help CEPI reach its funding target of $3.5 billion.”

The United Kingdom will host CEPI’s replenishment conference on 8th March, 2022, in London. The fund-raising event will convene governments, philanthropists and other donors to support CEPI’s five-year plan to tackle the risk of pandemics and epidemics, potentially preventing millions of deaths and trillions of dollars in economic damage.

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