Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Commits up to $120 Million to Accelerate Access to COVID-19 Drug for Lower-Income Countries, Calls on Other Donors to Mobilize Resources

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Commits up to $120 Million to Accelerate Access to COVID-19 Drug for Lower-Income Countries, Calls on Other Donors to Mobilize Resources

Share on facebook
Facebook
Share on twitter
Twitter
Share on linkedin
LinkedIn
Share on email
Email
Share on print
Print

Financial commitment aims to secure dedicated, low-cost supply of molnupiravir, if the drug is authorized by regulators; builds on long-term efforts to increase access to tests, treatments, vaccines

SEATTLE, October 20, 2021 -/African Media Agency(AMA)/- The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation announced today a commitment of up to $120 million to accelerate access to the investigational antiviral drug molnupiravir for lower-income countries as part of its COVID-19 response effort. The funding will be allocated based on consultations with partners, and will support the range of activities required to develop and manufacture generic versions of the drug, which is being developed by Merck & Co in collaboration with Ridgeback Biotherapeutics. 

This commitment builds on the foundation’s ongoing efforts, including $1.9 billion in funding, since the start of the pandemic to increase access to COVID-19 vaccines, treatments, and tests by supporting R&D, regulatory work, at-risk manufacturing, and product delivery. 

“To end this pandemic, we need to ensure that everyone, no matter where they live in the world, has access to live-saving health products. The unjust reality, however, is that low-income countries have had to wait for everything from personal protective equipment to vaccines. That is unacceptable,” said Melinda French Gates, co-chair of the Gates Foundation. “Today’s commitment will ensure that more people in more countries get access to the promising drug molnupiravir, but it’s not the end of the story—we need other donors, including foundations and governments, to act.”

Initial data reported by Merck suggest that molnupiravir, a broad-spectrum antiviral, can cut the risk of serious disease and death due to COVID-19 by half. Molnupiravir would be the first oral outpatient drug authorized for use in treating COVID-19 patients with mild and moderate disease—a critical breakthrough to prevent hospitalizations and save lives in combination with increased vaccination coverage and existing treatments for severely and critically ill patients. The decision on whether to authorize the drug for use sits with regulatory agencies, including the World Health Organization (WHO) and national governments. 

“Africa CDC and the Africa Union have been tracking the exciting developments on the antiviral, molnupiravir,” said John Nkengasong, director of the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “In order to make sure that Africa is not left behind, we have been working with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation colleagues on various mechanisms they can facilitate, once all of the regulatory processes are completed and the drug is officially made available to the world.”

This commitment leverages the resources of the foundation’s Strategic Investment Fund, which uses a suite of financial tools—including loans and volume guarantees—to address market failures and incentivize private enterprises to develop affordable and accessible health products. The foundation’s previous work to lower costs and increase access to life-saving drugs includes dolutegravir, an HIV drug. In 2017, the foundation established a volume guarantee with two generic suppliers that has brought therapies containing the drug to more than 18 million people in lower-income countries, in coordination with the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.

Strive Masiyiwa, African Union special envoy on COVID-19 response, said, “We applaud the foundation for its commitment and look forward to continuing our collaboration to ensure this potentially lifesaving treatment, upon regulatory approval, is accessible to as many Africans as possible. This would be a step forward in balancing the inequities seen to date in availability of innovations during the pandemic” 

The foundation has already provided expertise and funding to help strengthen generics manufacturers, including $1.3 million to Medicines for All Institute (M4ALL) and the University of Manchester to develop low-cost manufacturing processes that dramatically reduce the cost of raw materials and increase product yields. Several generics manufacturers are investigating these improvements already as they plan to scale up production following regulatory authorization. The foundation has also provided $2.4 million in grants to expedite generic company readiness to apply for WHO prequalification and start manufacturing when prequalification is granted. 

“Merck has taken important steps to make this drug available as a COVID-19 therapy, including negotiating licenses with generics manufacturers to increase supply. We are pleased to work alongside these efforts to ensure affordability and availability in lower-income countries,” said Bill Gates, co-chair of the Gates Foundation. “Making life-saving drugs like these available to everyone who needs them is what is necessary to end the acute phase of the pandemic, and open pathways to recovery.” 

The goal is to significantly reduce the time it takes for a new drug to reach low-income countries after it becomes available in high-income markets. The standard gap in rolling out global health products can be 12 months or more.

“We have a unique set of resources and expertise that we dedicate to ensuring that everyone, everywhere has access to life-saving health interventions,” said Mark Suzman, chief executive officer of the Gates Foundation. “This is what the foundation does best. We will work with companies, procurement agencies, and donors to make molnupiravir available to low-income countries. Our funding is part of what’s needed to ensure equitable supply. We call on other donors and partners to help mobilize the multiples of additional resources required.”

Since the start of the pandemic, the foundation has worked closely with a range of partners on R&D and delivery of COVID-19 tools. These partners include philanthropic and government donors that are part of the COVID-19 Therapeutics Accelerator and global organizations in the Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator (ACT-A) partnership, including Unitaid, UNICEF, WHO, the Global Fund, Wellcome, and the Africa Medical Supplies Platform. The foundation will continue to work with multilateral organizations, nongovernmental organizations, governments, and other partners to ensure that clinical, regulatory, and delivery pathways are ready once molnupiravir and its generic versions become available.

Distributed by African Media Agency (AMA) on behalf of Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

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 Gates and Melinda French Gates.

Media contact:
media@gatesfoundation.org

You might also enjoy

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Get updates and learn from the best

Become our partner

want more info, fill in this form.

Conférence de Presse en Ligne


Les frontières terrestres ne doivent pas constituer des obstacles à la dissémination de votre message. Grâce à notre service de conférence de presse en ligne, nous vous offrons l’opportunité de vous rapprocher des médias africains, chaque fois que vous en aurez besoin.

Nos services comprennent:

Digital Communications


Today, social networks constitute an organization’s first point of contact with a user and a potential customer. At first glance, you need to convince of the relevance and quality of your content to stimulate and motivate the user to go further. We create consistently inspiring online strategy to meet business objectives, engage stakeholders and enhance our client brand’s reputation internally and externally.

 

Communication​ digitale


Les réseaux sociaux représentent aujourd’hui le premier point de contact d’une organisation avec un utilisateur et un client potentiel. Au premier coup d’œil, vous devez le convaincre de la pertinence et de la qualité de votre contenu pour l’inciter à aller plus loin. Nous créons pour vous une stratégie de communication précise et adaptée sur les réseaux sociaux pour atteindre les objectifs commerciaux, impliquer les parties prenantes et améliorer la réputation de votre marque en interne et en externe.

Promotion​ d’événements


Le succès d’un événement réside en moitié dans sa promotion. Peu importe la beauté de l’événement, la qualité des orateurs et de l’ordre du jour, si personne ne rapporte ou ne parle de votre événement, vos efforts seront vains. Nous vous aidons à façonner votre récit et à créer un engouement autour de votre événement. De l’annonce de l’événement à la tenue de celui-ci, nous accompagnons votre effort de planification et le reflétons sur toutes les plateformes médiatiques.​

Formation​ Médiatique


Nous fournissons à vos porte-paroles les outils nécessaires pour présenter vos principaux messages et répondre avec confiance et cohérence aux questions. Notre formation est organisée soit à distance ou en présentiel, avec des études de cas réels et des répétitions. Nos clients repartent avec le sentiment d’être à l’aise devant les journalistes et d’agir en tant qu’ambassadeurs de la marque.

Veille​ Médiatique


Nous mesurons votre portée en relations publiques et rendons compte des informations de votre industrie et des activités de vos  concurrents en surveillant la majorité des canaux de diffusion dans toute l’Afrique. Une veille médiatique complète et opportune est essentielle pour s’assurer que vous ne manquez aucune référence à votre marque, que vous êtes constamment informé de ce qui se passe dans votre industrie et que vous êtes prêt à saisir les opportunités et à réduire les risques en temps opportun.

Relations​ Média


Peu importe le lieu où ils se trouvent, nous sommes une source d‘informations fiables pour les journalistes qui écrivent sur l’Afrique. Nous nous connaissons mutuellement et ils nous font confiance, car nous leur fournissons un contenu crédible qui les aide dans leurs tâches. Nous nous entretenons quotidiennement avec des journalistes aux quatre coins du continent, ce qui fait de nous l’un des organismes les plus efficaces pour mener des campagnes de relations avec les médias.

Stratégie et développement de contenu


Nous créons des stratégies de communication intelligentes, bien documentées et spécialisées destinées à vous aider à construire un récit fort qui engagera votre audience. Nous travaillons en synergie avec vous afin de rédiger des communiqués de presse et des articles d’opinions qui alimentent le récit de votre entreprise. Notre équipe a une expérience approfondie dans la création de récits et le développement de contenu multimédia.

DIFFUSION DE COMMUNIQUES​ DE PRESSE​


C’est le service phare d’AMA. Nous avons mis en place des canaux de diffusion des communiqués de presse auprès des journalistes des 54 États africains ainsi qu’auprès des journalistes américains et européens couvrant les sujets relatifs aux marchés émergents.​

​Nos services comprennent:​

Event Promotion


Half of the success of an event lays in its promotion. Doesn’t matter how beautiful the event is, how wonderful the speakers and the agenda are, if no one reports or talks about your event, your efforts are gone. We help you shape the narrative and create a drumbeat around your event. From the announce all the way to the outcome of the event, we accompany your planning effort and echo it through all media platforms

Media Training


We provide your spokespeople with the tools to present your key messages and answer questions with confidence and coherence. Our training is organised either remotely or face-to- face, with real case studies and rehearsals. Our clients leave feeling comfortable being in front of reporters and acting as brand ambassadors.

Media Monitoring


We measure and report on
your PR reach, industry news, and competitive activity by monitoring most channels in North, West, Central, East and Southern Africa. Comprehensive and timely media monitoring is critical to ensuring that you don’t miss any reporting of your brand,
you’re constantly informed on what’s going on around your business, and you’re ready to capitalise on opportunities and mitigate
risks in a timely fashion..

Media Relations


We have become an authoritative source of news for reporters writing about Africa, wherever they are. We know them, they know us, and they trust us for providing them with timely and accurate content that helps them do their job. We speak to reporters on a daily basis in all corners of the continent and this makes us one of the most effective agencies in running media relations campaigns.

Strategy & Content Development


We create smart and localised communications strategies to help build a strong narrative that will engage your audiences. We partner with you to create press releases and thought leadership pieces that sustain a drumbeat for your company’s narrative. Our team have deep experience in shaping narratives and developing media content.

PRESS RELEASE WIRE DISTRIBUTION

This is AMA’s flagship service. We have set up channels of distribution towards the journalists of the 54 African states, as well as to American journalists and European journalists covering emerging markets issues.
Our service includes:

Editorial advice

Localised editorial piece when needed

Distribution to the major print, broadcast and online publications along with industry-specific publications

Follow-up calls to secure interview request

Guaranteed distribution to Africa.com

Distribution to Bloomberg, LexisNexis and Thomson Reuters

Social Media Reach: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram

Full online monitoring and print monitoring when available. Includesreadership stats and Advertising Value Equivalent

Translation in French, Arabic and Portuguese available