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SEATTLE, September 29, 2020 - The death toll from COVID-19 passed one million this week. It is a sobering moment. But there is cause for optimism as recent days have seen a significant surge in momentum around global cooperation, which is our greatest strength when it comes to consigning this pandemic to the history books.
This is a shared global crisis that demands a shared global response. The only way to fully protect one nation is to protect every nation. And countries and companies are stepping up in unprecedented ways to make sure that the tools to fight this disease are available, affordable, and accessible to everyone who needs them.
The Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator is the best shot we have for this. Created just five months ago, this collaboration is already delivering incredible results. A ground-breaking agreement announced on Monday will provide 120 million rapid COVID-19 tests to low-and middle-income countries. And on Saturday, the British government pledged enough money to procure hundreds of millions of vaccine doses for poor countries. This was followed by a $165 million contribution from Canada. Others have also made commitments; more need to follow their lead.
Sixteen of the world’s biggest life sciences companies also deserve immense credit for exceptional commitments this week. Many will forego profits on any COVID-19 vaccine, they’ve agreed to cooperate on therapeutic production, and will ensure that everyone around the world has access to the latest COVID-19 tests, treatments, and vaccines. None of this has ever happened before. The companies’ approach sends a signal to donor governments that industry is willing to play its part—now, the donors need to respond.
This week also saw our foundation join forces with private companies and global health institutions to make sure that the latest, high-quality diagnostics do not just go to the highest bidder, and to enable early production and availability of tens of millions of doses of an approved vaccine for the world’s poorest people.
As Bill and Melinda noted in their Goalkeepers report this month, the pandemic has brought 20 years of development progress to a standstill while reinforcing existing inequalities all around the world. Getting back on track requires innovation and collaboration—underpinned by equity. A remarkable rush of R&D is already seeing breakthroughs in tests and treatments and paving the way for the quickest development of vaccines ever. It is just as inspiring to see the momentum building around global cooperation.
This week marks a critical turning point in the global response to COVID-19. But with more to do, our foundation will continue to work with the public and private sectors so that we can set the world on a path to a faster, fairer recovery.
About the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
Guided by the belief that every life has equal value, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation works to help all people lead healthy, productive lives. In developing countries, it focuses on improving people’s health and giving them the chance to lift themselves out of hunger and extreme poverty. In the United States, it seeks to ensure that all people—especially those with the fewest resources—have access to the opportunities they need to succeed in school and life. Based in Seattle, Washington, the foundation is led by CEO Mark Suzman under the direction of Bill and Melinda Gates and Warren Buffett.
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