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The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is stepping up its fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.
On Thursday, the foundation — which is the largest private foundation in the world — said it will commit an additional $250 million to support the research, development and equitable delivery of COVID-19 tests, treatments and vaccines. It marks the foundation’s largest single contribution to the COVID-19 response to date. The foundation’s total commitments to the global COVID-19 response now tallies $1.75 billion.
Melinda Gates, co-founder of the foundation, told Yahoo Finance a good chunk of the funds will support COVID-19 relief efforts in underdeveloped countries.
“Our whole goal is to make sure that these vaccines get out to low- and middle-income countries. So part of this money is going to be used on procuring 200 million doses of vaccines for low- and middle-income countries, and procuring 120 million of rapid diagnostic tests for low- and middle-income countries,” Gates said.
Gates acknowledges the logistical challenges to getting a vaccine into the arms of those in lower income countries. But she says it could be done.
“You have to do a lot of good planning up front. And that needs to be happening now. But it is possible,” Gates stressed.
Success on this front is essential to combat the rise in poverty in lower income countries at the hands of the pandemic. To be sure, the crisis has set efforts to improve the wealth in underserved parts of the world back many, many years.
The International Labour Organization (ILO) recently estimated that relative poverty among informal workers in low-income countries rose by a staggering 56% in the first month of the pandemic. In Africa alone, that number showed a 62% increase.
“As the pandemic is spreading across developing countries, the eradication of extreme poverty, currently affecting around 680 million people, seems nearly utopian,” researchers at the United Nations wrote in a new paper back in October.
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