The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has donated another A$10 million, this time to support a Murdoch Children’s Research Institute’s trial which is testing the effectiveness of a tuberculosis vaccine for children against coronavirus in Australia.
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has contributed about US$300 million to advance work on a potential vaccine to the coronavirus which has killed almost 160,000 people and infected almost 3.7 million people in 187 countries, with only a small number of countries still COVID-19 free. Gates said last month that the foundation would pick the seven most promising potential vaccines.
Murdoch Children’s Research Institute lead researcher Nigel Curtis told ABC Radio in Australia the vaccine was already being trialled on healthcare workers in Australia, and the funding would help expand this.
“As well as recruiting healthcare workers in Australia, we’re now able to recruit 4,000 healthcare workers in Europe, particularly in the Netherlands and Spain,” said Curtis. “This means that we can get a faster result and a better estimate of the effect of this vaccine on COVID19.”
Investing in new treatments and making sure they get delivered to everyone who needs them is core work of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
“Humankind has never had a more urgent task than creating broad immunity for coronavirus. Realistically, if we’re going to return to normal, we need to develop a safe, effective vaccine. We need to make billions of doses, we need to get them out to every part of the world, and we need all of this to happen as quickly as possible,” Bill Gates wrote on his blog.
“That sounds daunting, because it is. Our foundation is the biggest funder of vaccines in the world, and this effort dwarfs anything we’ve ever worked on before. It’s going to require a global cooperative effort like the world has never seen. But I know it’ll get done. There’s simply no alternative.”
A number of leaders came together in a virtual online summit chaired by Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, to pledge US$12 billion to develop and trial vaccines and drugs to fight coronavirus on Monday. US President Donald Trump and Russia President Vladimir Putin did not take part.
Meanwhile Pfizer, one of the world’s major biopharmaceutical companies, and German partner BioNTech started human testing for their mRNA vaccine program in the US shortly after starting trial enrolments in Germany.
The US Food and Drug Administration has given Gilead Sciences an emergency use authorisation for remdesivir to treat only seriously ill COVID-19 patients. In a study, remdesivir cut recovery time for patients hospitalised with COVID-19 by four days, or 31%, compared with a placebo.
Gilead Sciences pledged to donate its entire existing supply of remdesivir with the US government coordinating distribution of the medicine to hospitals in the hardest hit areas.