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Bill Gates Spending $150M to Make COVID-19 Vaccine Available for $3

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation donated $150 million to the Serum Institute of India (SII), to develop 100 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine.

The Serum Institute of India is the world’s largest vaccine manufacturer. According to the Wall Street Journal, the vaccine priced at $3 per dose will aim to provide relief to lower-income countries for them to avail of the coronavirus vaccine.

Gates has been among the foremost leaders on vaccine production over the last two decades, spending $4 billion on the global vaccine development effort known as Gavi. And for months, the billionaire has expressed profound worries that while rich countries may fare okay at surviving the coronavirus, the pandemic will devastate poor countries that can’t afford to administer the treatment, whenever it arrives.

“We’re trying to make sure we can end it not just in the rich countries,” Gates said in an interview with Bloomberg this week, stressing that he is focusing on the vaccines in development that would be affordable in the developing world, such as those being pursued by the pharmaceutical companies AstraZeneca and Novavax. “Those are the ones most scalable and low-cost.”

The Gates Foundation has now pledged about $500 million in total to respond to the pandemic, though the $150 million announced on Friday, August 7, is technically an interest-free forgivable loan.

The University of Oxford and drugmaker AstraZeneca are developing the vaccine in collaboration with Novavax. Novavax partnered with SII, giving the Indian firm exclusive rights to supply the vaccine in India.

Since the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the coronavirus outbreak a global pandemic, the vaccine will also be distributed in countries that the World Bank deems to be lower-income countries.  

In a statement said by Bill Gates, “Researchers are making good progress on developing safe and effective vaccines for COVID-19.”

“But making sure everyone has access to them, as soon as possible, will require tremendous manufacturing capacity and a global distribution network,” he added.

The three organizations said that their collaboration will ensure that lower- and middle-income countries are not forgotten.

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