On Thursday global leaders are set to pledge billions of dollars toward vaccination funding at a U.K.-hosted summit that aims to raise at least $7.4 billion. The summit, hosted by British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, will be virtually attended by leaders and representatives from more than 50 countries, as well as heads of private companies.
Funds raised at the event will go to global vaccine alliance Gavi, which will use the money to immunize 300 million children in the world’s poorest countries by 2025.
Gavi was set up in 1999 when the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation — a founding partner and ongoing funder of the organization — pledged $750 million to help establish it.
Bill Gates is set to attend and speak at Thursday’s summit. During the coronavirus crisis, Gavi has been providing essential medical supplies to those in need and working to increase global Covid-19 testing and tracking initiatives.
There are currently at least 133 potential Covid-19 vaccines being researched and developed around the world, according to the WHO. If an effective vaccine is developed, Gavi will assist in its global distribution.
Funds raised on Thursday are intended to help ensure a recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic, with health experts warning that further spikes in infection could be seen in wealthy countries if the virus is left to spread in developing nations.
Ensuring people are immunized against diseases like measles, polio and typhoid also reduces the burden on health-care systems in poorer countries, which are coming under pressure amid the coronavirus crisis.
By working to sustain those health-care systems throughout the pandemic, Gavi claims countries will be ready to rapidly introduce a Covid-19 immunization if a safe-to-use vaccine is found.
The WHO, the U.N. children’s charity UNICEF and Gavi have all warned that the pandemic is disrupting routine vaccinations around the world, with around 80 million children younger than a year old being affected across 68 countries.